Category Archives: Apologetics

"Wholesome thinking" is more than getting sex off your mind

(2 Peter 3:1-10)

by Spencer Gear PhD

A. Introduction

I exhort you to have

3d-red-star-small “pure thoughts in your mind,” (GNB)[1] to

3d-red-star-small have a “pure mind,” (Moffat’s translation)[2] to

3d-red-star-small do some “wholesome thinking,” (NIV)[3]

3d-red-star-small To stir “up your sincere mind” (ESV)

3d-red-star-small To clean up your mind.

What do you think I am referring to?

Some may think that I am telling you to keep away from x-rated videos that are now called “non-violent erotica” or porn on the Internet. Others would think that certain magazines are off limits.[4] Or get your mind off the sensual and sexual.

Today I want to “stimulate you to wholesome thinking.” (NIV)[5] But I want you to get your mind off sex. “‘Wholesome thinking’ is more than getting sex off your mind” — that’s the title of my message.

Read 2 Peter 3:1-10

These two letters of 1 & 2 Peter were written to “stir up your pure minds” (KJV), according to 3:1. Other translations speak of:

  • “sincere mind” (RSV, NASB, RV, ESV),
  • “honest thinking” (Contemporary English Version),
  • “unsullied (sincere) mind” (Amp. Bible),
  • “unclouded understanding” (New Jerusalem Bible)
  • “minds uncontaminated with error” (J.B. Phillips),

The idea is this: If you read chapter two of 2 Peter, you will see that the church of the first century was faced with what is happening in Australia today. False teachers and false prophets were propounding their destructive heresies.

Peter says: “Dear friends,” or “Beloved” (he uses this word 4 times in this third chapter, vv. 1, 8, 14, 17), suggesting that Peter had an “affectionate interest in his readers.”[6] But he was desperately concerned that they might be led astray by false teaching. He began to address this in chapter 2 of this epistle. So here, he wants to stir up their “minds” or “stimulate” them in their thinking.

This is not the normal Greek word for mind, nous. Rather, this is dianoia. It is referring to our ability to “reflect,”[7] our “understanding.” [8] It’s a similar idea to what we find in I Peter 1:13, “Prepare your minds for action.”[9]

Peter is calling upon these believers (and us, by application) to have thinking that is “uncontaminated by the lust and heresy all around them.”[10] “Pure” or “wholesome” is in the sense of “unmixed”[11] with error and impurity.

This is probably why the J.B. Phillips’ paraphrase is pretty close to the mark. We must have “minds uncontaminated with error.” But what kinds of error? It was the kind of error that was around in the first century and it is is with us today.

Yes, we can engage in unwholesome thinking when our minds are bombarded with sex. But there’s other dangerous, unwholesome thinking that is more subtle than that. And we are subjected to it in deluge proportions today.

B. We are to clean up our thinking in four areas:

Firstly: Peter says: This world is dominated by very naturalistic thinking. There is nothing supernatural, just matter – some say. Human beings do not have a soul or spirit. I was talking to a Christian drug counsellor in Brisbane recently and he said that a psychiatrist raised his voice at him and thumped his fist on the table: “We are nothing but flesh, and legal drugs are the only cure for our ills.” Matter is all that matters.

Peter challenges us: that is “unwholesome thinking.”

Secondly: Your “unwholesome thinking” can get you to think that it is NOT God who acts in human history, but the USA, the United Nations, and the Australian government as a small player. Look at Kosovo, Vietnam, Uganda, Iraq, September 11 2001, and the Middle East. If you think this way, your thinking is not pure. It is mixed with error.

Thirdly: Peter wants you to meditate on this: even though there is evil, slaughter and strife all around us, God’s delay in acting (holding back Jesus’ second return) is not because God is powerless. God has excellent reasons for stalling Christ’s return.

Fourthly: Human history is not going around in circles (as my doctor said to me), it is heading for an enormous climax. President Joe Biden (USA President 2022) and Scott Morrison (Australian Prime Minister 2022) will not be in control. Neither will the United Nations be able to do it.

While there may be what looks like a repeat of certain events in world history, God’s pattern is NOT cyclical. God’s view is teleological. That’s a big word, but it comes from the Greek, teleos, meaning “ultimate purpose and design.”[12]

This world is heading towards God’s GRAND conclusion to the world and it is right on track. God has a design and nobody in this world will change it.

Let’s see how Peter challenges us to “wholesome thinking.”

C. First Challenge (v. 3),

scoffers (mockers) will come “in the last days”.

When are the last days? This is not just the time immediately before Christ’s second coming. The “last days” is the period that extends from Christ’s first coming to his second coming.[13]

What were these mockers saying?

  • “scoffing”; It’s an interesting phrase, “scoffers will come, scoffing” (v. 3). They are “mocking at holy things.”[14] These scoffers will be:
  • “following their own evil desires”; Sounds like today!
  • “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” they ask;
  • “everything does on as it has since the beginning of creation” (vv. 3-4).

This is a description of Australia today—we have droves of people who deny biblical truths and live in ungodly ways.

I have done a little writing in “letters to the editor” to local papers down through the years, opposing the use of marijuana and showing how dangerous it is, from a scientific perspective. Also, I do not hide my Christian commitment when I write, if it is relevant to the point being debated.

A person responded to some of the issues others and I have raised with this language:

  • “right-wing religious zealots who dominate much of our local anti-drug groups”;
  • “effective drug policy should never be confused with moral crusades”;
  • “Some may ask why I seem [so] interested in drug issues?
  • The reason is that I have probably seen more pain and suffering caused by drug abuse than all our born-agains put together.”
  • “our local anti-marijuana crusaders”;
  • “Right wing anti-drug groups.”[15]

The Bible is right on target, “in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing, and following their own evil desires.”

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher of the 19th century, influenced Adolf Hitler and his super-race mentality. Nietzsche wrote:

“Christian morality is the most malignant form of all falsehood… It is really poisonous, decadent, weakening. It produces nincompoops not men… I condemn Christianity and confront it with the most terrible accusation that an accuser has ever had in his mouth. To my mind it is the greatest of all conceivable corruptions. . . . I call it the most immortal blemish on mankind.”[16]

It was Nietzsche who described modern people this way: “God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed Him.”[17] It’s easy to think that this happened a century ago with Nietzsche. It is NOT relevant to us in Australia, right now.

I encountered a classic example of what the Bible is talking about, a few years ago—here in Australia. I was walking the streets of one of our capital cities, inviting people, young and old, to come to a Christian coffee shop we were operating on a voluntary basis.

A young man, about 18-years-old, wandered into the coffee shop. I was engaged in some good conversation with him. But when I began to share the reality of Jesus Christ and his need to repent, it was as if all hell broke loose.

He sneered, scoffed and then began shouting at me, “You Christians must be out of your mind. How ridiculous you are. You’ve been preaching this stuff for 2,000 years. Jesus will save you, make you clean, and he’s coming again. What rubbish! You’ve been preaching this myth for 2,000 years.”

He began to laugh loudly, “Ha! Ha! Where’s this Jesus you’re talking about? Where’s this promise about His coming again? It’s all hot air. You’ve got to be joking.” I turned to 2 Peter 3 and shared this passage with him. His head dropped, but he walked away – scoffing!

These scoffers in Peter’s day continued:

  • “everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:3-4).

This is the argument of evolution, called uniformitarianism. Harvard University’s astronomer, Harlow Shapley, said a few years ago:

“Some say, ‘In the beginning God. . .’ but I say, ‘In the beginning hydrogen.'” What he essentially meant was, “Give me hydrogen, time, and the natural laws, and I will give you the universe. Then we can be done once and for all with myths and fables about God or gods.”[18]

So, are the scoffers correct? Has everything gone on “as it has from the beginning of creation”?

On the one hand, “Yes.” I am glad that the sun will rise tomorrow morning as it has done for thousands of years, millions of days. It does it like clockwork. And yet it’s not the sun rising at all. It is the earth revolving around the sun.

I am happy gravity operates consistently. It would be impossible to live in a world where, one minute I throw a ball out of the window and it falls to the ground. Another time that ball goes up, up and away into orbit. Imagine what it would be like living in such an unpredictable world.

If there was no uniformity to the way things happen, scientific investigation would not be possible. Yes, some things happen as they have since the “beginning of creation,” and we are glad.

On the other hand, DEFINITELY NOT! Peter reminds us that things have NOT gone on in a uniform way since creation. There have been massive interventions by God into our world that floors any argument for evolution’s uniformitarianism.

3d-red-star-small First, “By the word of God, the heavens existed [were created] and the earth was formed out of water and with water” (v. 5). How? By the supernatural intervention of God at creation. Read about it in the first chapter of Genesis.

3d-red-star-small Second, Everything had not gone on in a uniform way and 2 Peter 3:6 gives us a striking picture of the Great Flood that came at Noah’s time: “By water also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.”

3d-red-star-small There’s going to be a third time. Note v. 7, “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.”

When judgment comes at the close of this age, the heavens and the earth will be burnt up in a great inferno, and ALL ungodly people will be judged. NOBODY will get away with anything before God.

That’s why our proclamation of the gospel is so urgent in these days of cultural crisis. Most will turn away, but God will be about the work of saving some. We dare not be negligent in these dangerous, materialistic days in which we live.

Peter challenges us to “wholesome thinking.” Here, Peter is saying that your “pure mind” has nothing to do with sex. Your “pure thoughts” will know this: First (v. 3), scoffers (mockers) will come “in the last days.” Don’t be surprised when you are mocked for your faith.

There’s a second dimension to this “wholesome thinking”:

D.   (v. 8), if you overlook God’s perspective on time, your thinking will be putrid, not pure.

You must get the Lord’s perspective on time:

  • “a day is like a thousand years,” and
  • “a thousand years are like a day.”

What does this mean? There is a parallel verse in Ps. 90:4, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.”

Everyone in this church, everyone in the world, will accept one of two positions in life:

  • First, you will accept the ideas of human beings and their philosophies of history and their forecast for the future of the world.

I noticed on the TV news one time that one of the missions of a USA spacecraft was to further investigate the origins of the universe, billions of years ago.

For the Christian, this is “unwholesome thinking.” If you are looking to the world’s ideas of how time began, when and how the world came into being, as human beings think – this is ungodliness.

God’s views of creation and time are radically different.

  • There’s s a second position. You can accept God’s perspective on time and where the world is heading — from the Bible (The Word of God), the prophets and apostles God has chosen. They will give you God’s account of the world and history. The truth, not human speculation.

If God has the power to stop what is going on in the world, why doesn’t he? Why doesn’t he stop what’s going on in Bosnia, the slaughter of tourists in Uganda, and stopping the floods in Bangladesh that killed so many?

Let’s remember this:

  • We must not be curious about “times and seasons.” The disciples

asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” What was His reply? “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).

Quit worrying about times, dates and seasons in God’s timetable. They are in the capable hands of the Lord Almighty. By the limitations of our humanity, we cannot fully understand the mind of God. Leave the future with Him, while we go about, as v. 11 says, living “holy and godly lives.”

Also remember:

3d-red-star-small God’s relationship to time is so far removed from our thinking.

3d-red-star-small God is above time. He made time, but he chooses to act in time.

3d-red-star-small Listen to these words from Genesis concerning people and time: “Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal. . . .” (Gen. 6:3); “For the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Gen. 15:16).

God’s striving to get through to the human heart will end one day. Think of what the Lord did in a day!

3d-red-star-small The days of creation.

3d-red-star-small The day on which Noah’s Flood came.

3d-red-star-small “If we think of the last day of our Lord’s Passion, how much affecting human history, and affecting angelic history, and affecting even God himself, was crowded into it”[19] – ONE DAY?

We think of a day as a short time, almost like an insignificant period of time, and a thousand years as a long period of time. Not so with God. “A thousand years may be a short time with God”[20] who is beyond time.

Just think of the enormous world-wide influence of one day — our Savior’s death. That one day will have more profound influence than thousands of years of human history.[21]

Many people can waste away 70 years of life and accomplish very little. It is not the years that count in your life. It’s the thought, love and action that measure a good life, not the hands of the clock and the lapse of hours and years.[22]

Thank God he’s eternal, the God of eternity. The psalmist put it so profoundly when speaking about God, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. . . . From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:4, 2).

There’s a third dimension to your “wholesome thinking”:

E. Third (v. 9), there’s a reason why God doesn’t end world history NOW. His delay is because of His grace.

If I said to my wife, I will mow the lawn and I don’t do it, she has every reason to say that I am slack, I break my word, and cannot be relied on.

Jesus said, “I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3).

But he hasn’t returned! We have been waiting 2,000 years and he hasn’t honoured his promise. If I don’t mow the lawn, I can be accused of being slack, breaking my word, and not being reliable. Can the same accusation be made about Jesus? That’s what the mockers of Peter’s day were doing. Look at v. 4 of this chapter in 2 Peter 3 that we are studying: “They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?”

From v. 9, it seems that the Christians to whom Peter is writing, are beginning to accept what the mockers were saying. R. C. H. Lenski put it this way:

Since the [Second Coming][23] has not yet come, and since time keeps going on, ‘some’ who are unable to account for this ever-increasing delay and who let what verse 8 states escape them, get uneasy and think that the mockers are perhaps right in claiming that there is nothing to this whole promise of Christ’s return.[24]

So, what’s the answer? Do we have an unreliable, slack Jesus who can’t keep his promises?

Peter says in v. 9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.” That word “slow” in the NIV, “slack” in KJV, means, “The Lord is not tardy.”[25] “The word implies, besides delay, the idea of lateness with reference to an appointed time.”[26]

If you are thinking, like these early Christians, that Jesus’ delay in not returning makes him tardy and slack, you are engaging in unwholesome, impure thinking. This kind of slackness can NEVER be attributed to God. If God says he will do something, and we think it is not fulfilled in OUR puny way of thinking of time, there is a REAL reason for the delay. And it has nothing to do with a slack, impotent God.

v. 9 gives us the clear reason for the delay: “He is patient [or longsuffering, KJV] with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

There is one and only one reason for the delay of Christ’s second coming: It’s the grace of God towards sinners.

God uses time so as to serve his purposes of grace. For that purpose a single day is as a thousand years to him, a thousand years as a single day. To him time, whether it is brief or long, is an entirely minor matter just so his gracious purpose is accomplished. Look at it this way. Then you will not think of delay, procrastination],[27] emptiness of promise. Then you will see that the Lord’s waiting is his longsuffering toward you, his holding out long with the blessed intention[28] . . . that none are to perish.”[29]

The reason for the delay is the patience of God. He is extending time, putting off the Second Coming of Christ. “What is a thousand years to the Lord if he can thereby bring many to repentance?”[30]

God said through Ezekiel: “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways” (Ezekiel 33:11).[31]

Christ has not returned because God is extending the time so that we, the church, can get off our backsides, become active in proclaiming the Gospel so that God will bring many more into the kingdom.

Frankly, it is not a SLACK Lord, but a TARDY church. Paul, in Romans 2:4, said: “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?”

Matthew 24:14 gives us a further clue: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Your “wholesome thinking” again has nothing to do with sensuality in Peter’s context. God’s delay is not a broken promise, or tardiness. It is God’s grace. His desire is that ALL will be saved. Through the Cross, the convicting and drawing work of the Holy Spirit, and God’s providence in the world. God is delaying his coming so that MORE will have the opportunity to repent.

We MUST respond with evangelism in the cities and towns where we live.

We MUST be committed to world evangelism, missions. Otherwise, we are engaging in worldly, impure, unwholesome thinking. That’s Bible.

There’s a fourth and final dimension that must be a part of your “wholesome thinking”:

F. Fourth (v. 10), God will end human history suddenly.

READ v. 10:

First Thess. 5 2 confirms this: “You know very well that the day of the

Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

Jesus agrees: “But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:39-40).

By the “day of the Lord,” we are to understand it to be the glorious Second Coming of Christ. Its coming is as certain and as sure as God Himself.

Flower2 It will be an awful day;

Flower2  It will come like a thief entering your house in the darkness;

Flower2  People will be eating, drinking, partying, marrying, defacto-ing, without a thought of God, and ZAP — the end will come.

Flower2 It will be a catastrophe of humungous proportions. This will make the eruption of Mt. St. Helens look like a kids’ party.

Flower2 The crash of a world falling apart;

Flower2 The roar of destroying flames;

Flower2 The dissolution of the elements into chaos;

Flower2 The holocaust that will burn up the earth and everybody in it;

Flower2 The palaces of kings, the forts around cities, the cathedrals and church buildings, burnt up in an instant of tremendous ruin.

Flower2 This is God’s sudden judgment on a world that

cubed-iron-sm thumbs its nose at him,

cubed-iron-sm scoffs at the thought of his coming again,

cubed-iron-sm treats Christians as idiots from another planet.

On that day, the heavens that at one time sent down a deluge of water in the time of Noah, “will themselves pass away . . . with a sudden crackling, sizzling, sputtering roar.”[32]

G.  Application

Let’s pause for a moment to meditate on this message and apply it to us. You must have wholesome thinking, minds uncontaminated by error.

1. Mockers were around in the first century church. They are still with us. They scoff at holy things. Like the fellow writing to the Bundaberg, Qld., Australia News-Mail: “I have probably seen more pain and suffering caused by drug abuse than all our born-agains put together.”

Expect it. But what’s your response? Will it be gruff and

antagonistic, or considerate as you respond to a person made in the image of God? It’s hard!

2. Men and women of science will constantly come up with new theories of how the world evolved billions of years ago. Will your faith remain rock solid on the FACTS of God’s Word, “In the beginning, God [not the force of evolution] created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1).

In spite of NASA sending satellites to try to discover the origin of the world and human life, will you remain firmly committed to the God of the Bible who has told us HE created it in the beginning?

No matter how sarcastic and arrogant the scientific community may become in asserting the certainty of uniformitarianism and evolution, will your faith remain solid in its commitment to the Lord of the universe?

2. Will you quit placing limitations of time on God? Will you let him be his eternal self? Pray fervently for God to save your family members, your neighbours and the people of the world, but leave the timing to him.

3. This world is becoming more putrid by the minute. People seem to sin their way into stupidity. Why hasn’t the Lord come by now? It’s His grace.

Since the second coming of Jesus has been delayed, what should your response be in sharing the gospel with family members, your neighbours, and taking the Gospel to the world? Mission societies are always struggling for funds to keep missionaries on the field. Will you become part of the financial solution, even if it is only a few dollars a week? Will you sacrifice, so that others will hear?

Wise people do not lay up treasures on earth. I plead with you to live with heaven on your mind, and not to live as though this dying, wretched world is your home.

4. “Suddenly, instantaneously, the end will come. The Lord will need no time at all. But there will come the Lord’s day as a thief, in which the heavens with a cracking crash… shall pass away; moreover, elements, being heated, shall be dissolved, and earth and the works in it shall be burned up.[33]

Peter is so certain about this sudden destructive blaze that will envelop and destroy the entire world that he repeats it in v. 12, “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”

In light of this FACT, Peter gives the application in v. 11, “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

God has intervened in judgments in the past: he did it when Adam and Eve sinned, through the World-wide Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the confusion of languages at the Towel of Babel; Israel was judged in being sent to Egypt and Babylon.

God will do it again when the world ends in a massive inferno. In light of this, I urge you to live godly lives as you live for Jesus in the town where God placed you and proclaim Christ in an antagonistic culture.

Believers, remember that v. 13 follows: “But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.”

Is your mind clean, clear, pure and wholesome in God’s way of thinking?

H.  Works consulted

Alford, Henry. Alford’s Greek Testament: Volume IV, Part II, James -Revelation (containing revisions by Henry Alford up to the time of his death in 1871). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Guardian Press, 1976,

Arndt, W F & Gingrich, F W 1957. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (limited edition licensed to Zondervan Publishing House).

Geisler, Norman L. Ethics: Alternatives and Issues. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John, and St. Jude. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966.

Parker, Gary. Creation: The Facts of Life. San Diego, California: Master Books, 1980

Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament (Volume VI: The General Epistles and the Revelation of John). Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press, 1933.

Shapley, Harlow (ed.), Science Ponders Religion. New York: Appellation Century-Crofts, 1960.

Spence, H.D.M. and Joseph S. Exell (eds.), The Pulpit Commentary (Vol. 22, Epistles of Peter, John & Jude, The Revelation). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950, The Second Epistle General of Peter, exposition and homiletics by B.C. Caffin.

The Heritage Illustrated Dictionary of the English Language: International Edition. Boston: American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1975.

I.  Notes


[1] 2 Peter 3:1, Good News Bible.

[2] 2 Pt. 3:1, Moffatt’s Bible translation, New King James Version.

[3] 2 Pt. 3:1, New International Version (NIV).

[4]Eg., Playboy, Penthouse and Picture magazines.

[5] 2 Pt. 3:1, NIV. Other translations of “wholesome thinking” are: The literal Greek means “pure mind”; “pure thoughts in your mind” (Good News Bible), “sincere mind” (RSV, NASB, RV), “sincere intention” (NRSV), “sincere disposition” (New American Bible), “honest minds” (New Century Version, Weymouth), “honest thought” (NEB, REB), “honest thinking” (Contemporary English Version), “unsullied (sincere) mind” (Amp. Bible), “minds uncontaminated with error” (J.B. Phillips), “unclouded understanding” (New Jerusalem Bible).

[6] Pulpit Commentary, vol 22, 65.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol VI, 172.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Michael Green, 2 Peter and Jude (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries). London: The Tyndale Press, 1968, 123.

[11] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (Vol. 1). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., originally published 1887, reprinted 1946, 703.

[12] The Heritage English Dictionary, 1323.

[13] Caffin in Spence and Exell, The Second Epistle General of Peter, 85.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Letters to the Editor, “Marijuana would remain illegal,” M. Buscombe, Bundaberg, in the Bundaberg News-Mail, March 5, 1999, 13.

[16] Friedrich Nietzsche, Anti-Christ. New York: Knopf, 230, in Geisler, Ethics: Alternatives and Issues, 1971, p. 33.

[17] Friedrich Nietzsche, Joyful Wisdom, translated by Thomas Common, Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1960, section 125, 167-168, in Geisler, 1971, p. 33.

[18] In Gary Parker, Creation: The Facts of Life. San Diego, California: Master Books, 1980, 139. See also Harlow Shapley (ed.), 1960, 3.

[19]Spence, Exell, Caffin, 86.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Suggested by ibid., 67.

[22] Suggested by ibid., 73.

[23] The original said “Parousia.”

[24] Lenski, 345.

[25] Alford, 415.

[26] Vincent, 705.

[27] The original said, “dilatoriness.”

[28] My deleted section reads, “boulomai [in Greek characters] is often used in this sense, notably in I Tim. 2:8; 5:14; Titus 3:8; etc., Lenski, 346.

[29] Ibid., 345-346, emphasis added.

[30] Ibid., 346.

[31] See also Ezekiel 18:23, which asks: “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

[32] Ibid., 347.

[33] Lenski, 346, emphasis in original.

Copyright © 2022 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 January 2022.

How to shame Christianity

Lee Strobel

Strobel in 2007

Strobel in 2007

By Spencer D Gear PhD

If you wanted to bring Christianity and its Bible into disrepute, how would you do it? If you go to the ‘Comments’ section of this interchange at Online Opinion, What is your view for one to worship humans? there you’ll see how some antagonists do it.

Christianity is currently the world’s largest religion with 2.22 billion followers according to the World Atlas. It includes approximately one-third of the world’s population but its numbers are declining.

clip_image002(Graph courtesy Pew Research Center, Conrad Hackett & David McClendon 2017)

Beginning in the first century AD, after the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity spread through the preaching of Jesus’ disciples, the apostle Paul and other preachers/teachers of the Gospel. You can read about the start of the Christian Church in the Bible’s Book of Acts.

1. Christ changes people

This Gospel’s content deals with the human condition and how it can be changed – permanently: ‘But here is how God has shown his love for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ and placing our faith in Christ brings new life – eternal life. This brings changed lives.

There are many examples of those who were sinners who became saints. Manny Pacquiao, former world boxing champion and now a member of the Philippine’s Senate, was defeated by Australia’s Jeff Horn. However, Manny says ‘the best thing that has happened in my life was that I encountered God’.

In this Christianity Today interview, it was revealed that his drinking, gambling and womanising behaviour was overlooked by fans, but those sins ‘were tearing apart his marriage and family’. See his wife’s comments below.

Lee Strobel

Strobel wrote on his webpage (photo from his homepage):

Atheist-turned-Christian Lee Strobel, the former award-winning legal editor of the Chicago Tribune, is a New York Times best-selling author of more than 40 books and curricula that have sold 14 million copies in total. He has been described in the Washington Post as “one of the evangelical community’s most popular apologists.”

Strobel was educated at the University of Missouri (Bachelor of Journalism) and Yale Law School (Master of Studies in Law). He was a journalist for 14 years at the  Chicago Tribune and other newspapers, winning Illinois’ highest honor for public service journalism from United Press International. He also led a team that won UPI’s top award for investigative reporting in Illinois.

After probing the evidence for Jesus for nearly two years, Strobel became a Christian in 1981. He subsequently became a teaching pastor at three of America’s largest churches and hosted the national network TV program “Faith Under Fire.” In addition, he taught First Amendment law at Roosevelt University and was professor of Christian thought at Houston Baptist University.

In 2017, Strobel’s spiritual journey was depicted in an award-winning motion picture, “The Case for Christ,” which showed in theaters across America and around the world. The movie is still on Netflix. Strobel won national awards for his books The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, The Case for a Creator, and The Case for Grace. His latest book is The Case for Miracles.

He and co-author Mark Mittelberg recently created the Making YOUR Case for Christ video-driven small-group curriculum, which trains Christians how to share and defend their faith. The Christian Post named Strobel one of the top seven evangelical leaders who made an impact in 2017.

Strobel and his wife, Leslie, have been married for 47 years. Their daughter, Alison, is a novelist, and their son, Kyle, is a professor of spiritual theology at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University.[1]

C. S. Lewis

Monochrome head-and-left-shoulder photo portrait of 50-year-old Lewis
Lewis, age 48

On the intellectual side of things, G.K. Chesterton had a significant influence on Lewis. As Lewis read The Everlasting Man, he appreciated Chesterton’s humor and was surprised by the power of his presentation. He began to feel that “Christianity was very sensible ‘apart from its Christianity'” (p. 130). Lewis also found that he was drawn to many other authors that had this strange Christian twist:Spenser, Milton, Johnson, MacDonald, and others. In contrast, those with whom he theoretically agreed-Voltaire, Gibbon, Mill, Wells, and Shaw-seemed thin and “tinny.” On top of this, some of the brightest, most intelligent at Oxford were also “supernaturalists.” People like Neville Coghill, Hugo Dyson, and J.R.R. Tolkien were kindred spirits and also Christians. One by one, the arguments that were obstacles to faith were removed.

Once while riding on a bus in Oxford, Lewis had the sense that he was “holding something at bay, or shutting something out” (p. 131). He could either open the door or let it stay shut, but to open the door “meant the incalculable.” He finally submitted himself to God, the most “dejected and reluctant convert” in all England. This belief in God happened in 1929, but it was not until 1931 that he surrendered himself to Christ.

When Lewis finally came to Christ, he at last resolved the “dialectic of desire” he had been struggling with since childhood. Downing points out that Lewis’s first experience at Oxford was highly symbolic. When he exited the Oxford railway station for the first time, he was loaded down with luggage. Mistakenly, he started walking down the street in the wrong direction. As he kept walking, he grew disappointed at the rather plain houses and shops he found. Only when he reached the edge of town did he turn around to see the beautiful spires and towers that constitute Oxford. In telling this story, Lewis says, “This little adventure was an allegory of my whole life.” Boyhood was a “fall” from the joys of childhood. Growing up was even more of following the wrong way. The “path less taken” was a return to wonder and glory and a rejection of the mundane inanities of modern life (p. 153). He needed to look back in order to go forward. Good only comes by “undoing evil;” a wrong sum can be put right.

His faith changed his direction from “self-scrutiny” to “self-forgetfulness.” He rejected the “unsmiling concentration on the self” and was “taken out of my self” to love God and others (p. 156). Downing says: “The real story of Lewis’s conversion, then, is not about dramatic changes in a man’s career but about dramatic changes in the man.”[2]

Hugh Ross (astrophysicist)

image-hugh-ross-465x280

Hugh Rosss (CRU)

Part of his story is:

I delayed making a personal commitment of my life to Christ. Although I knew God with my mind, I struggled to surrender my will to him. What if God changed the direction of my life? What if the people around me found out about my new beliefs?

As I continued to wrestle with the decision, my grades began to drop, and I discovered the meaning of Romans 1:21, which warns that rejecting God’s truth results in a darkening of the mind. After two months of vacillation, I finally turned my whole self to God and signed the “decision statement” at the back of my now well-worn Bible, acknowledging my life now belonged to Jesus Christ, my Creator and Savior.

With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, I went on to complete my undergraduate degree in physics at the University of British Columbia and my graduate degrees in astronomy at the University of Toronto.[3]

Alister McGrath

The Reverend

Alister McGrath

FRSA

Alister McGrath.jpg

Christianity Today stated of Oxford University Professor McGrath:

The relationship between Christianity and science is hotly debated, and both believers and skeptics have appealed to Albert Einstein to buttress their positions. Believers point to Einstein’s many references to God while skeptics note his rejection of revealed religion. Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion at Oxford University, has written a new book on the famous physicist, A Theory of Everything (That Matters): A Brief Guide to Einstein, Relativity, and His Surprising Thoughts on God (Tyndale).

McGrath also recently published Narrative Apologetics: Sharing the Relevance, Joy, and Wonder of the Christian Faith (Baker), in which he argues that stories are an important but often overlooked resource for commending Christianity. In both books, he contends that the Christian faith has a better story to tell than secular alternatives and offers great explanatory power.

Christopher Reese spoke with McGrath about the interconnected topics of faith, science, and apologetics.[4]

Rosalind Picard

Rosalind Picard

Panel Discussion Close-up, Science, Faith, and Technology Cropped.jpg

Rosalind Picard at the Veritas Forum Science, Faith, and Technology session on “Living Machines: Can Robots Become Human?”

In the British magazine, Premier Christianity, there was an article by Ruth Jackson, “Professor Rosalind Picard: ‘I used to think religious people had thrown their brains out the window.’ She was asked:

How did you become a Christian?

I grew up in a family that never went to church or talked about religion. I thought people who were religious had thrown their brains out the window. I used to babysit for this really cool family – he was a doctor and she was really neat – while they went to Bible studies. They invited me to church and I told them I was sick. Then they invited me again and I told them I was sick. Faking sickness to a doctor really wasn’t working! They caught on that I didn’t want to go and told me that what I believe matters. They asked if I’d read the Bible. I was a straight A student – one of those obnoxious kids who thought myself really smart. So, I thought I should probably read the bestselling book of all time. I agreed to take their advice to read the book of Proverbs, one a day for a month. I saw there was all this wisdom. Not wacky, made-up gobbledygook, but stuff I could learn from. I was humbled. Then I set out to read the whole Bible. And that changed me.

It took time, because I did not want to believe in God. And I resisted. But as I read the Bible, I felt God talking to me. I eventually went to church and the pastor challenged us to consider inviting Jesus to be Lord of our life. That sounded a little wacky to me. But I decided to run it as a scientific experiment: if it’s really stupid, it won’t make any difference, it doesn’t really matter. And if it makes a difference, wouldn’t it be better to have the mind of the whole universe, who knows everything, as Lord of my life? So, I took that step and it made an enormous difference. This load was lifted, I felt amazing peace (25 May 2021).

She is a leading expert in Artificial Intelligence.

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life

She wrote:

Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life(Nicole Cliffe photo courtesy Christianity Today)

I became a Christian on July 7, 2015, after a very pleasant adult life of firm atheism. I’ve found myself telling “the story” when people ask me about it—slightly tweaked for my audience, of course. When talking to non-theists, I do a lot of shrugging and “Crazy, right? Nothing has changed, though!” When talking to other Christians, it’s more, “Obviously it’s been very beautiful, and I am utterly changed by it.” But the story has gotten a little away from me in the telling.

As an atheist since college, I had already mellowed a bit over the previous two or three years, in the course of running a popular feminist website that publishes thoughtful pieces about religion. Like many atheists (who are generally lovely moral people like my father, who would refuse to enter heaven and instead wait outside with his Miles Davis LPs), I started out snarky and defensive about religion, but eventually came to think it was probably nice for people of faith to have faith. I held to that, even though the idea of a benign deity who created and loved us was obviously nonsense, and all that awaited us beyond the grave was joyful oblivion.

I know that sounds depressing, but I found the idea of life ending after death mildly reassuring in its finality. I had started to meet more people of faith, having moved to Utah from Manhattan, and thought them frequently charming in their sweet delusion. I did not wish to believe. I had no untapped, unanswered yearnings. All was well in the state of Denmark. And then it wasn’t.

What I Already Knew

There are two different starting points to my conversion, and sometimes I omit the first one, because I think it gives people an answer I don’t want them to have. It is a simple story: I was going through a hard time. I was worried about my child. One time I said “Be with me” to an empty room. It was embarrassing. I didn’t know why I said it, or to whom. I brushed it off, I moved on, the situation resolved itself, I didn’t think about it again. I know how people hear that story: Oh, of course, Nicole was struggling and needed a larger framework for her life! That’s part of the truth, but it’s not the whole truth.

The second starting point is usually what I lead with. I was surfing the Internet and came across John Ortberg’s CT obituary for philosopher Dallas Willard. John’s daughters are dear friends, and I have always had a wonderful relationship with their parents, who struck me as sweetly deluded in their evangelical faith, so I clicked on the article.

Somebody once asked Dallas if he believed in total depravity.

“I believe in sufficient depravity,” he responded immediately.

What’s that?

“I believe that every human being is sufficiently depraved that when we get to heaven, no one will be able to say, ‘I merited this.’ ”[5]

Nicole Cliffe is co-founder and co-editor of the website, “The Toast,” and lives in Utah.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in February 1974Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in February 1974 (photo courtesy Wikipedia).

Christian Life Ministries wrote:

When Alexander Solzhenitsyn received the Templeton Award in 1983, he began his address with these words:

Over half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: they said,

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well near fifty years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own towards the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that has swallowed up sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Sixty Million people suffered and died from deprivation, weakness, starvation, famine, cruelty or imprisonment in the concentration camps of Siberia. Solzhenitsyn said that he could not put it more accurately than to repeat:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”[6]

How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus (Sarah Irving-Stonebraker)

Doctor Sarah Irving-Stonebraker(photo courtesy Western Sydney University)

Sarah is a Senior Lecturer in Modern European History,
Humanities (Arts)

 

Sarah wrote:

I grew up in Australia, in a loving, secular home, and arrived at Sydney University as a critic of “religion.”  I didn’t need faith to ground my identity or my values. I knew from the age of eight that I wanted to study history at Cambridge and become a historian. My identity lay in academic achievement, and my secular humanism was based on self-evident truths.  As an undergrad, I won the University Medal and a Commonwealth Scholarship to undertake my Ph.D. in History at King’s College, Cambridge.  King’s is known for its secular ideology and my perception of Christianity fitted well with the views of my fellow students: Christians were anti-intellectual and self-righteous.

After Cambridge, I was elected to a Junior Research Fellowship at Oxford.  There, I attended three guest lectures by world-class philosopher and atheist public intellectual, Peter Singer.  Singer recognised that philosophy faces a vexing problem in relation to the issue of human worth. The natural world yields no egalitarian picture of human capacities. What about the child whose disabilities or illness compromises her abilities to reason? Yet, without reference to some set of capacities as the basis of human worth, the intrinsic value of all human beings becomes an ungrounded assertion; a premise which needs to be agreed upon before any conversation can take place.

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism.

I remember leaving Singer’s lectures with a strange intellectual vertigo; I was committed to believing that universal human value was more than just a well-meaning conceit of liberalism.  But I knew from my own research in the history of European empires and their encounters with indigenous cultures, that societies have always had different conceptions of human worth, or lack thereof.  The premise of human equality is not a self-evident truth: it is profoundly historically contingent.  I began to realise that the implications of my atheism were incompatible with almost every value I held dear.

One afternoon, I noticed that my usual desk in the college library was in front of the Theology section. With an awkward but humble reluctance, I opened a book of sermons by philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich. As I read, I was struck at how intellectually compelling, complex, and profound the gospel was.  I was attracted, but I wasn’t convinced.

A few months later, near the end of my time at Oxford, I was invited to a dinner for the International Society for the Study of Science and Religion.  I sat next to Professor Andrew Briggs, a Professor of Nanomaterials, who happened to be a Christian.  During dinner, Briggs asked me whether I believed in God. I fumbled. Perhaps I was an agnostic?  He responded, “Do you really want to sit on the fence forever?” That question made me realise that if issues about human value and ethics mattered to me, the response that perhaps there was a God, or perhaps there wasn’t, was unsatisfactory.

With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.

In the Summer of 2008, I began a new job as Assistant Professor at Florida State University, where I continued my research examining the relationship between the history of science, Christianity, and political thought. With the freedom of being an outsider to American culture, I was able to see an active Christianity in people who lived their lives guided by the gospel: feeding the homeless every week, running community centres, and housing and advocating for migrant farm laborers.

One Sunday, shortly before my 28th birthday, I walked into a church for the first time as someone earnestly seeking God. Before long I found myself overwhelmed.  At last I was fully known and seen and, I realised, unconditionally loved – perhaps I had a sense of relief from no longer running from God.  A friend gave me C.S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and one night, after a couple months of attending church, I knelt in my closet in my apartment and asked Jesus to save me, and to become the Lord of my life.[7]

2. Resistance from everyday people

I blog on Christian forums and meet open and honest people who have trouble with believing in Christ and they question the Bible’s reliability. There are others who are hard-headed atheists who won’t listen to any reasonable argument in support of Christianity.

Foxy tried it on me in this online blog:

Not everyone believes that what is written in the Bible is the literal word of God. After all The Bible was written by men and it’s their interpretations that are recorded. Therefore can you really claim that it is what God stated? Isn’t it just what you happen to believe? Therefore you are not in any position to preach to any one else. You are merely preaching your interpretations and beliefs. Other people have their own and don’t need you to educate them.

My reply was: Nice try, Foxy! Not one line of your response had anything to do with the content of what I wrote.

So, you committed a red herring logical fallacy. It is faulty reasoning because you attempted to redirect my argument to your doubting Thomas views about the Bible, God and interpretation. This is a deliberate diversion from my topic.


When you engage in the use of a logical fallacy, this flaw in reasoning undermines the validity of your arguments. It makes it impossible to have a productive conversation.

I could provide an answer to all of your questions and assertions, but that wouldn’t address the content of my post, to which you replied.

You have given me a few of your anti-Bible presuppositions in your post. Why don’t you use a few of these in an article for Online Opinion? Slam dunk God, the Bible and interpretation.
Then we can have a discussion that is related to your topic.
[8]

Foxy’s response was:

On the contrary – it was you were gave the Bible references. I merely stated what many theologians have stated. And yet you took that as an attack of some sort on the Bible. It wasn’t at all and what I personally believe or do not believe you have no way of knowing therefore your assumptions are not correct. But I agree that a rational, well reasoned intelligent discussion with you it seems would be pointless.
Cheers.
[9]

My response was:

Foxy,
Again you’ve not dealt with the content of what I wrote about your use of a red herring fallacy against me.

We cannot have a rational discussion when you continue to use this logical fallacy. It is your flawed reasoning that is contributing to this.[10]

Foxy came back:

OzSpen,
Could you be a tad more specific.
Exactly what red-herring fallacy are you referring
to that I provided?
Or are you stating that your quotes from the Bible
are a red herring fallacy?
[11]

I replied:

Foxy,
You don’t seem to understand the nature of the red herring logical fallacy you committed: See:
https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/tools/lp/Bo/LogicalFallacies/150/Red_Herring
When you responded to my post with very different content and did not address what I wrote, you changed topics to address what you wanted to say. Thus, it you committed the red herring fallacy.
It had nothing to do with my quoting Bible verses. It was what you stated in response to me.
[12]

You can read my further discussion with Foxy and others in this thread on the Bible and rejection of it as God’s Word.

3. Antagonism from atheists and agnostics

The trainer of Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, who has trained him for 15 years, says he is an agnostic/atheist, so he has seen Pacquiao’s change firsthand.

He told The Guardian, Australia Edition (5 October 2014),

“I’m happy because I found the right way, salvation, born again. We are required to be born again, all of us. Christ said unless we are born again we cannot enter the kingdom of God. So it’s very important to me. Jesus Christ said: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ There is no other way. The only way is through Jesus.”

“Pacquiao once was not so righteous. He once was an all-night hound dog, taking his pleasure where he pleased, ignoring all advice to respect the sanctity of his marriage vows and determined to squeeze as much fun from life as was available to someone who was born into grinding poverty. Those were his hardcore inclinations until only a few years ago”.

Eminent scientist and atheist/agnostic, Richard Dawkins, has been called the ‘High Priest of Unbelief’. His view is that

not only do we need no God to explain the universe and life. God stands out in the universe as the most glaring of all superfluous sore thumbs. We cannot, of course, disprove God, just as we can’t disprove Thor,[13] fairies, leprechauns and the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But, like those other fantasies that we can’t disprove, we can say that God is very very improbable (emphasis added).[14]

Is that so? Science can explain nature but explanation has no creative power. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at Oxford University and a Christian, responded to this view: ‘Physical laws on their own cannot create anything; they are merely a description of what normally happens under certain given conditions’.

5. Disinterest from those who don’t give a hoot about religion

There’s a story in the New Statesman:

Jonathan Derbyshire writes: Jeremy Bentham, his disciple John Stuart Mill once wrote, would always ask of a proposition or belief, “Is it true?” By contrast, Bentham’s contemporary Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mill observed, thought “What is the meaning of it?” was a much more interesting question.

Today’s New Atheists –Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and the late Christopher Hitchens principal among them – are the heirs of Bentham, rather than Coleridge. For them, religion – or the great monotheistic faiths, at any rate – are bundles of beliefs (about the existence of a supernatural being, the origins of the universe and so on) whose claims to truth don’t stand up to rational scrutiny. And once the falsity of those beliefs has been established, they imply, there is nothing much left to say.

The New Atheists remind one of Edward Gibbon, who said of a visit to the cathedral at Chartres: “I paused only to dart a look at the stately pile of superstition and passed on.” They glance at the stately pile of story and myth bequeathed to humanity by religion and quickly move on, pausing only to ask of the benighted millions who continue to profess one faith or another that they keep their beliefs to themselves and don’t demand that they be heard in the public square.[15]

6. Shame Christians by using logical fallacies

Foxy did it above with his red herring logical fallacy.

Jayb wrote:

OzSpen: When the Gospel was proclaimed after Jesus’ death and resurrection,
I think you better do some reading up on History. The Gospels weren’t written until about 100 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) None of the people who wrote the Gospels had any direct contact with Yeshua. . . I guess you gotta be a Southern Baptist, Ay.
[16]

Jayb committed the argument from silence fallacy as I explained:

<<OzSpen: When the Gospel was proclaimed after Jesus’ death and resurrection, I think you better do some reading up on History>>.
It’s too late to tell me I need to read up on history. I’ve taught Church history and its place in secular history – at the college level. I have a university PhD in NT, with emphasis on the historical Jesus.
You argue from silence (which is a logical fallacy) when you don’t know my background. You stated:


<<The Gospels weren’t written until about 100 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) None of the people who wrote the Gospels had any direct contact with Yeshua>>.


That is false. John is described as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’ (John 21:20).
Your claim of no Gospel written before AD 100 is challenged. Dr Paul Barnett is a visiting fellow in ancient history at Macquarie University, Sydney. His research indicates that:
** ‘by the late fifties a number of written texts – Mark, Q and L (and others?) – were in existence. . . . We do not know precisely when these traditions reached written form’ (Paul Barnett 1999. Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity, InterVarsity Press, pp 380).
** The infamous John A T Robinson of Honest to God fame has published some magnificent research on Redating the New Testament.


After the research, he concluded that all NT books were written before AD 70. They began with the Book of James (ca. 47-48) and concluded with the Book of Revelation (ca. late 68-70). That challenges your historical-critical belief that the Gospels weren’t written until after AD 100.


<<All the branches of Christianity established by the Apostles were eliminated by the Pauline branch after the Nicene Council by the Pauline Bishops>>.
That’s your hypothesis that needs to be verified or falsified through research.
<<I guess you gotta be a Southern Baptist, Ay.>>
Again you argue from lack of knowledge.
[17]

See my other articles dealing with this topic:

matte-red-arrow-small Logical fallacies hijack debate and discussion[1]

matte-red-arrow-small Logical fallacies used to condemn Christianity

matte-red-arrow-small Christians and their use of logical fallacies

matte-red-arrow-small One writer’s illogical outburst

matte-red-arrow-small Why Christianity is NOT a religious myth promoted by dim-witted theists

7.  Notes

[1] The Lee Strobel Center, Colorado Christian University, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.ccu.edu/strobelcenter/.

[2] A book review by Art Lindsley of The Most Reluctant Convert: C.S. Lewis’s Journey to Faith, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/node/48. Page numbers refer to this review.

[3] “My Story: Dr Hugh Ross,” CRU, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.cru.org/us/en/how-to-know-god/my-story-a-life-changed/hugh-ross.html.

[4] Christianity Today, “Alister McGrath: Both Science and Stories Declare God’s Glory,” December 4, 2019, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/december-web-only/alister-mcgrath-science-and-stories-declare-gods-glory.html.

[5] Nicole Cliffe 2016, Christianity Today, “Nicole Cliffe: How God Messed Up My Happy Atheist Life,” May 20, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2016/june/nicole-cliffe-how-god-messed-up-my-happy-atheist-life.html.

[6] Christian Life Ministries, Scarborough WA, Australia, “A Man of Enormous Christian Faith,”

[7] Sarah Irving-Stonebraker 2017.The Veritas Forum, “How Oxford and Peter Singer drove me from atheism to Jesus.”

[8] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 5 July 2018 5:29:03 PM.

[9] Posted by Foxy, Thursday, 5 July 2018 6:15:54 PM.

[10] Posted by OzSpen, Thursday, 5 July 2018 8:50:29 PM.

[11] Posted by Foxy, Friday, 6 July 2018 11:42:20 AM.

[12] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 6 July 2018 5:38:58 PM.

[13] Thor was an ‘American comic strip superhero created for Marvel Comics by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. The character derived from a Germanic god of the same name’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2020. s.v. Thor).

[14] R Dawkins 2006. Edge (online). Why there almost certainly is no God, 25 October. Available at: https://www.edge.org/conversation/richard_dawkins-why-there-almost-certainly-is-no-god (Accessed 13 June 2020).

[15] New Statesman 2013, “After God: What can atheists learn from believers?” 27 March, accessed 12 September 2021, https://www.newstatesman.com/culture/culture/2013/03/after-god-what-can-atheists-learn-believers.

[16] Posted by Jayb, Friday, 6 July 2018 11:25:05 AM

[17] Posted by OzSpen, Friday, 6 July 2018 7:30:59 PM.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 12 September 2021.

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Why Ravi Zacharias?

File:Ravi Zacharias speaks at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay  130917-A-MS942-255.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I have to be sensitive as I begin this topic as I don’t know what went on between Ravi and God in the last minutes before the end of his life. Did he genuinely seek God’s forgiveness and repentance? All of that is in the realm of the unknown to me. Only God knows it. All we can deal with is what the Scriptures state and Ravi’s double standards before he died.

A friend and I had a light-weight chat over the ‘fall’ of Ravi Zacharias from grace before and after his death. Well, the knowledge of the “fall” that emerged after his death is explained below.

Ravi Zacharias will be in heaven

My friend, a Baptist, said, “I believe I’ll see Ravi in heaven.” Without thinking about it, I agreed. However, I’ve thought further as to what my friend could know that would lead him to believe Ravi is in glory.

Further research by lawyers and investigative journalists from Christianity Today have revealed his unethical sexual behaviour had continued for about a decade but with no actions taken by his ministry RZIM or the Christian and Missionary Alliance.

Ravi will be in heaven on the basis of a once-saved-always-saved theology!

Once saved-always saved

Rod Halliburton teaches:

The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” teaches that it is not possible for a child of God to sin in such a way that he will be lost. Many people, who undoubtedly are very sincere and possess a desire to do what is right, find tremendous comfort in this doctrine. This doctrine, however, is not taught in the Bible. It is an erroneous doctrine that provides a false comfort and a deceitful feeling of security (Halliburton 2019).

We can cherry-pick a few verses to try to gain comfort in Ravi’s certainty of being in heaven. Halliburton raised these verses some use to support once-saved, always saved. These include:

We can cherry-pick a few verses to try to gain comfort in Ravi’s certainty of being in heaven. Halliburton raised these verses some use to support once-saved, always saved. These include:

  • I Peter 1:5 (NIV), “who through faith are shielded (present tense, active voice) by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
  • II Peter 1:5-9 with the answer of II Peter 1:10:

2 Peter 1:5-9 (NIV):

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

The answer is in 2 Pet 1:10 (NIV), “Therefore, my brothers and sisters,[1] make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble.”

  • Hebrews 3:12 (NIV), “See to it [continuous action], brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”
  • John 10:27-28 (NIV), “My sheep listen [continue to listen] to my voice; I know [continue to know] them, and they [continue to ] follow me. 28 I [continue to] give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
  • I John 3:9 (NIV), “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.”
  • I Corinthians 9:27 (NIV), “No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
  • Galatians 5:4 (NIV), “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.”

However, those verses cannot survive . . .

The Thunderstorm of Opposition

  • Jesus said, “He cuts off every branch in me that (continues to) bear no fruit, while every branch that (continues to) bear fruit he prunes[2] so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2).
  • Jesus went on to say, “If you do not (continue to) remain in me, you are like a branch that is (continuously) thrown away and withers; such branches are (continually) picked up, (continually) thrown into the fire and burned.” (John 15:6 NIV).

The thunderstorm against once-saved-always-saved

Heb 6:4-6 (NIV) provides the thunderstorm against once-saved-always-saved:

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen [3] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

See my exposition of this passage at: Contentious theology: Falling away from the faith.

The double-life of Ravi Zacharias

This is what we are dealing with.

Zacharias in 2015

clip_image001Zacharias talks to Pastor Joe Coffey at Christ Community Chapel (Hudson, OH) about answering objections to Christianity

A prominent evangelical defender of the faith worldwide, the late Ravi Zacharias, was declared an apostate – posthumously – by both his evangelical denomination (The Christian & Missionary Alliance) and by the ministry he founded RZIM.

This Christianity Today article begins: “A four-month investigation found the late Ravi Zacharias leveraged his reputation as a world-famous Christian apologist to abuse massage therapists in the United States and abroad over more than a decade while the ministry led by his family members and loyal allies failed to hold him accountable” (Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation, February 11, 2021).

clip_image003 The Christian and Missionary Alliance has revoked his ordination posthumously (after his death) – “Ravi Zacharias’s Denomination Revokes Ordination

clip_image003[1] RZIM organized research by lawyers and concluded: “Guilt beyond anything that we could have imagined.” It was “once the largest apologetics ministry in the world.” Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) will stop doing apologetics work this year” (Christianity Today, March 10, 2021, “RZIM Will No Longer Do Apologetics.”)

We see the demise of an eminent apologist to that of what seems to be an apostate or one who could not control his sexual appetites.

How could that happen to a born-again Christian who spoke at the funeral service of Dr Norman L Geisler?

He didn’t practice what he preached?

How do we know Ravi is now experiencing eternal life with Jesus?

The error of a certain doctrine

The error of once-saved-always-saved would cause my Baptist friend to consider he will see Ravi Zacharias in heaven. I’m not convinced of such as it’s not a biblical doctrine.

See my article on Arminius on perseverance of the saints

We don’t know what happened before his last breath.

I repeat how I began the article. We do not know Ravi’s final actions before God, but his life (revealed after death) points to a person who was not practicing the fruit of the Spirit in his life.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal 5:22-23 NIV).

The evidence discovered after his death points to a person who lacked sexual self-control and disgraced the Lord he proclaimed.

Works consulted

Halliburton, Rod. Religious Reflections, “Looking at the doctrine of ‘once saved, always saved,’” February 1, available at: https://www.camdenarknews.com/news/2019/feb/01/looking-doctrine-once-saved-always-saved/ (Accessed 8 September 2021).

Notes


[1] “The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family.”

[2] “The Greek for he prunes also means he cleans.”

[3] Or, “if they fall.”

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 September 2021.

Why I walked away from Christianity[1]

Stoning - Wikipedia

(Saint Stephen, first martyr of Christianity, painted in 1506 by Marx Reichlich (1460–1520)
(Pinakothek of Munich)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Some prominent apostates included:

clip_image002 Charles Templeton

clip_image004(Image courtesy Pinterest)

Chuck Templeton became a convert to Christ/Christianity in 1936 and then became an evangelist. He founded Avenue Road Church of the Nazarene in Toronto, Canada in 1941.

In 1945, he met with Torrey Johnson at Winona Lake, Indiana to form a group that became Youth for Christ. Billy Graham was hired as its first full-time evangelist. He and Templeton engaged in an evangelistic tour of Western Europe.

He attended Princeton Theological Seminary and hosted a weekly religious television show on CBS, Look Up and Live, in the 1950s.

He struggled with doubt about the Christian faith and in 1957 he announced he had become agnostic. This publicity caused reactions in the evangelical community.

He made forays into politics in Canada but spent much of the rest of his life as a journalist in public life.

He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the late 1990s and passed away from disease complications in 2001.[2]

A couple years before he died, Lee Strobel of A Case for Christ fame interviewed Charles Templeton. Some of Templeton’s replies to Strobel included the following:

[Strobel asked]: “And how do you assess this Jesus?…”

“He was,” Templeton began, “the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my readings. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world. What could one say about him except that this was a form of greatness?”

I was taken aback. “You sound like you really care about him,” I said.

“Well, yes, he is the most important thing in my life,” came his reply. “I . . . I . . . I . . . ,” he stuttered, searching for the right word, ‘I know it may sound strange, but I have to say . . . I adore him!” . . .

” . . . Everything good I know, everything decent I know, everything pure I know, I learned from Jesus. Yes . . . yes. And tough! Just look at Jesus. He castigated people. He was angry. People don’t think of him that way, but they don’t read the Bible. He had a righteous anger. He cared for the oppressed and exploited. There’s no question that he had the highest moral standard, the least duplicity, the greatest compassion, of any human being in history. There have been many other wonderful people, but Jesus is Jesus….’

“Uh . . . but . . . no,’ he said slowly, ‘he’s the most . . .” He stopped, then started again. “In my view,” he declared, “he is the most important human being who has ever existed.”

That’s when Templeton uttered the words I never expected to hear from him. “And if I may put it this way,” he said as his voice began to crack, ‘I . . . miss . . . him!

With that tears flooded his eyes. He turned his head and looked downward, raising his left hand to shield his face from me. His shoulders bobbed as he wept. . . .

Templeton fought to compose himself. I could tell it wasn’t like him to lose control in front of a stranger. He sighed deeply and wiped away a tear. After a few more awkward moments, he waved his hand dismissively. Finally, quietly but adamantly, he insisted: “Enough of that” (Charles Templeton: Missing Jesus, The Gospel Coalition).

What penetrating statements from one who had committed apostasy by rejecting God and Jesus!

clip_image006(Photo of an elderly Charles Templeton, courtesy The Gospel Coalition, U.S. Edition)

When Christians have doubts about anything relating to God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the life of a Christian, the place to begin addressing those doubts is not to head into the darkness of agnosticism – I don’t know if God exists. That’s a fence-sitting position with no hope of resolution.

A better way to go, I suggest, would be to tackle these doubts one at a time and with the counsel of wise biblical theologians and apologists. In this era with the Internet, it’s so easy to obtain information to deal with doubts.

However, the Holy Spirit’s personal ministry to all Christians is especially in these actions:

John 14:15-18 (NIV)

‘If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you’.

John 15:26 (NIV)

‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me’.

Romans 8:9 (NIV) 

’You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.’

The NT Greek word for Advocate, parakletos,[3] in various occurrences in the NT, means Helper, Intercessor and Convincer. In John’s Gospel only is the Holy Spirit called ‘the Helper’ (Jn 14:16, 26; 16:7). There is a damaged fragment of the Greek MSS for 1 John 2:1 that is in all English translations. It reads, ‘My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous’ (ESV).

So here Jesus Christ has the role of being an advocate. In pre-Christian and extra-Christian literature, the word has the meaning of ‘one who appears in another’s behalf, mediator, intercessor, helper’ (Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich Greek-English Lexicon 1957:623-624).

I recommend this article to help us in ‘understanding the Role of the Holy Spirit as our Helper.

Another who was once an evangelical Christian and from present indications is an apostate. I speak of

clip_image002[1] Professor Bart D. Ehrman.

clip_image008(Photo courtesy Wikipedia)

He attended Moody Bible Institute, known for its evangelical Christianity and the liberal arts, and Wheaton College (Billy Graham’s alma mater).

Today Ehrman is a theologically liberal professor in a university. He could not be clearer about his view today:

I have not called myself a Christian publicly for a very long time, twenty years or so I suppose. But a number of people tell me that they think at heart I’m a Christian, and I sometimes think of myself as a Christian agnostic/atheist. Their thinking, and mine, has been that if I do my best to follow the teachings of Jesus, in some respect I’m a Christian, even if I don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God, or that he was raised from the dead, or that… or even that God exists.  In fact I don’t believe all these things. But can’t I be a Christian in a different sense, one who follows Jesus’ teachings? (The Bart Ehrman Blog, March 6 2017).[4]

With backgrounds from training in Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton College, both stalwart evangelical institutions, Bart Ehrman knows that good works and rejection of God’s and Jesus’ existence and attributes do not suffice for entrance into God’s kingdom.

He has written books antagonistic to the Christian faith:

In his works, I have found Ehrman to set out to destroy evangelical Christianity and promote his own brand of liberal, agnostic religion. In a YouTube clip he claimed that he moved from fundamentalist Christian to liberal Christian who went to church, to an agnostic and humanist. He says he became an agnostic because of the problem of suffering in the world.

In an interview in 2018, Ehrman stated: ‘I feel like I’ve gained a lot by becoming an atheist, but I’ve also lost a lot, and there’s no reason, in my mind, to deny that’ (An Interview with Professor Bart Ehrman, Author of The Triumph of Christianity, Friendly Atheist, 15 August 2018)

There you have the slow movement of Bart Ehrman from evangelical Christianity, to liberal Christianity, to agnosticism and atheism.

It began with his doubts about the accuracy of the Bible and not having a biblical solution to the problem of evil in the world.

1. Evolution defeats Christianity[5]

I’ll pick up a few things from the early parts of his post.[6]
He wrote: ‘I walked away from Christianity as a child because of evolution’. To allow Charles Darwin & Co to determine HOW God created and continues to create is a view that is added to Scripture. I don’t see the origin of species and adaptation (Darwinism) in Scripture.

It’s the theory of evolution that has now become the facts of evolution.

clip_image010For further examination of the evolution-creation debate, I recommend this series of books by a Christian lawyer (Philip E Johnson) and a non-Christian biologist (Michael Denton):

(photograph Michael Denton, courtesy Discovery Institute)

clip_image012Michael Denton, Evolution: A theory in crisis (Burnett Books 1985);

clip_image012[1]Michael J Denton, Evolution: Still a theory in crisis (Discovery Institute 2016); hear a podcast of this issue (YouTube).

clip_image013Michael J Denton, Nature’s destiny: How the laws of biology reveal purpose in the universe (The Free Press 1998);

clip_image013[1]Phillip E Johnson, Darwin on trial (InterVarsity Press);

clip_image012[2]Phillip E Johnson, Reason in the balance: The case against naturalism in science, law & education (InterVarsity Press);

clip_image014Phillip E Johnson, Defeating Darwinism by opening minds (InterVarsity Press);

clip_image013[2]Phillip E Johnson, Objections sustained: Subversive essays on evolution, law & culture (InterVarsity Press).

See also my articles:

clip_image016Challenges to evolutionary ‘factual’ evidence

clip_image017Has evolution been proved by science?

2. Does literal interpretation mean you are conservative?

Again, his reasoning is, ‘I’m not sure if dropping literalism means dropping conservativism (sic),[7] because there have been people who’ve read Genesis as allegory since the religion first started up. That seems to be even more common in Judaism’.[8]
He provided no documentation for this. It is his assertion. Therefore, it is a diversionary tactic. Do you want the first man and woman to be an allegory? Are you going to treat Noah and the flood as an allegory? How about Abraham? Is God’s promise to Abraham an allegory that had no relationship to the nation of Israel: ‘I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing’ (Gen 12:2 NIV)?
How do you read your local newspaper, whether hard copy or online? Do you read it literally or impose your allegory on it? Take this article from The Sydney Morning Herald (29 January 2017), Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ executive order kicks in, passengers refused entry to US.
[9]
The story began:

New York: President Donald Trump’s executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees was put into immediate effect on Friday night (Saturday AEDT). Refugees who were in the air on the way to the United States when the order was signed were stopped and detained at airports.?

What would stop the person on the forum from making this an allegory where you force your own meaning onto it to make it say what you want? That’s what allegorical interpretation does. It imposes a meaning from outside of what the text states. It is far too easy for you to say,

There have been people who’ve read Genesis as allegory since the religion first started up. That seems to be even more common in Judaism. I didn’t know that this stuff could be read in layers when I was seven, but I certainly know it now’.

So you are already accepting the ‘layers’ of allegorical interpretation without investigating the harmful consequences of what that does to any piece of literature, including the Bible.

3. His liberal bias

He[10] continued: ‘If I decide the Resurrection happened, I can then start working on the question of how much of the rest is true, but that seems a bit backwards as a starting point.’

My comeback was he already told us about his ‘liberal bias’. How will he ever get to understand Jesus’ resurrection as an historical event without telling us which historical criteria he will use to examine the evidence?
He asked,

Can you be conservative and read the Garden of Eden metaphorically? I find it a very powerful statement when viewed symbolically, but when taken literally I think it’s blatantly misogynistic. My liberal bias very clearly lines up to the reality that Eve has been used as an excuse to justify the oppression of women throughout all of Judeo-Christian history.

How can I respond to someone who wants to interpret the Bible his way – metaphorically? Here goes!
You can’t be a legitimate biblical interpreter and make the Scriptures mean what you want them to mean. When you impose a metaphorical hermeneutic on the Garden of Eden, you introduce your own story into the narrative.

That’s called a red herring fallacy because it takes us away from what the narrative states. There is no indicator in the text of Gen 1-3 (ESV) that tells us the Garden of Eden account is an allegory. That’s your ‘liberal bias’ speaking.

4. Driven by this agenda

He nailed what drives his agenda: ‘I lean towards the liberal view that the Word of God was filtered through a patriarchal culture and picked up some of its bias’.

Again, that’s imposition on the text. It’s eisegesis (putting your meaning into the text) instead of exegesis (getting the meaning out of the text).[11]

Unless you put your presuppositions up for examination and follow the evidence wherever it leads, you are going to have difficulty in pursuing this investigation. I see your foggy worldview of liberalism blinding you to the reality of what the text states.
When you pick and choose what you want to make allegory, you are a postmodern deconstructionist who is deconstructing the text to your own world view. I urge you to place your presuppositions on the altar of critical examination – crucify them (I ask the same of all of us on this forum, including myself).

5. I chose to accept Christ’s offer of salvation

Why have I (this writer) chosen not to follow Charles Templeton and Bart Ehrman in their rejection of Christianity? Scripture confirms that the Templeton and Ehrman examples were anticipated in Scripture. See Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV) and my article Once saved, always saved or once saved, lost again, which exegetes these verses.

I was raised on two sugar cane farms near Bundaberg, Qld., Australia. My parents were ‘religious’ Methodists who took the 3 children with them to Sunday School and church. However, in 1959 real Christianity came to live in our house when Mum and Dad responded to the Gospel invitation through the preaching of Billy Graham. Billy preached in the Brisbane Ekka grounds and his voice came through the loud speakers at the Bundaberg Show Grounds (called Fair Grounds in the USA).

They sat in their old Ford Prefect utility and at the Gospel invitation they went forward to receive Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Our household was changed from that day. Jesus so changed my parents’ lives that all 3 children became born-again Christians, not through coercion, but through the free offer of salvation made available to the children. We have each grown in various dimensions down through the years.

Through Mum and Dad’s influence and the teaching in a local Baptist church I responded in faith to Jesus and was baptised as a believer in 1962.

That was the beginning of my journey of over 50 years of growth and failure in the Christian life. By ‘failure’ I refer to the years in my late teens and early 20s when I went astray but later returned to the faith. During the remaining years I’ve also failed others and myself in not living up to the standards of the teachings of the NT.

My faith has continued to grow as have my gifts as a Bible teacher and apologist. This homepage should demonstrate how I have chosen to pursue Jesus with all my heart and to seek answers when doubts and questions arise.

5.1 Faith founded on facts

In this era when facts are being denied with the promotion of a post-facts’ world, there are facts historical and contemporary that are denied at our peril.

Post-fact is an adjective ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’ (Lexico/Oxford Dictionary 2019. s.v. post-fact).

My faith is not founded on a leap of faith but on facts of God’s existence; Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection; the historical reliability of the Old Testament and New Testament, and the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Neither is my faith established by how I feel about the Trinitarian God. Feelings are unreliable in establishing truth because they can change so rapidly.

Historical facts about the world of the Old Covenant Israelites and the New Covenant Scriptures have been demonstrated in historical research. See:

clip_image019 Kenneth A Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Eerdmans).

clip_image019[1]Walter C Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant? (InterVarsity Press).

clip_image019[2]Craig L Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (InterVarsity 1986)

clip_image019[3]Craig L Blomberg presentation, Historical Reliability of the Gospels (YouTube).

clip_image019[4]Craig L Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament (B&H Academic).

clip_image019[5]Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans).

I understand challenges to the Christian faith as opportunities to engage with antagonists to better understand their world views, expose inconsistencies, and discover their presuppositions that drive their anti-God agendas.[12]

See especially the topics covered in Apologetics index.

My faith was openly challenged when I took a Christian position in a doctoral class at a secular university on the evolution-creation issue. I pointed out an apparent discrepancy in the text book being used. The professor, in front of the class, shouted at me: ‘Your views are b… s..t’ and he did not abbreviate. The next day he spoke to me privately and apologised for what he said. However, he never expressed regret to the class.

I was shocked by his attack and eventually withdrew from that university’s program in counseling psychology as I couldn’t see that professor treating me objectively in the future. I’ve thought about what I should have done:

  • He committed an Ad Hominem (Abusive) logical fallacy. He attacked me rather than dealing with the issue. It was erroneous reasoning and that by a university professor teaching in a doctoral program in the USA.
  • I should have left class immediately and gone straight to the academic dean of the department to make a complaint against the prof. However, I was too nervous and inexperienced to do that. Thirty five years since then have taught me a great deal about identifying logical fallacies that side-track a discussion.
  • I could have challenged him further with evidence but I did not know enough about the evolutionist-creationist discussion.

clip_image021(photograph, Norman Geisler, courtesy Norman Geisler International Ministries)

My mentor at a distance has been Dr Norman Geisler who went home to be with the Lord on 1 July 2019, at the age of 86, 20 days shy of his 87th birthday. He taught me so much through his books, online material, and debates.

5.2 The fact of human free will choices

Dr Geisler was one of the finest advocates for the biblical basis of human beings having free will, the power of contrary choice. He advocated this position in one of his finest publications, Chosen But Free (Bethany House Publishers).

He explained further:

Thomas Aquinas, keenly observed why there is no contradiction between God knowing future free acts and their being freely chosen. It is simply because a contradiction occurs only when something is both affirmed and denied of the same thing at the same time in the same relationship. But the relationship here is not the same. For “Everything known by God must necessarily be” is true if it refers to the statement of the truth of God’s knowledge, but it is false, if it refers to the necessity of the contingent events.

Since God is an omniscient being, He knows with certainty what we will do freely. The fact that He knows “in advance” from our temporal perspective does not mean that the event can not happen freely. For God can know for sure that the event will occur freely. The necessity of His knowledge about the contingent event does not make the event necessary (i.e., contrary to free choice). It simply makes His knowledge of this free event an infallible knowledge. In brief, the same event can be viewed in two different relationships; one in relation to God’s foreknowledge and the other in relation to a human being’s free will. Since the relationship is different, the law of non-contradiction is not violated (Norman L Geisler, Is God an Android? (2011).

6. Works consulted

Kurish, N & Fernandez, M 2017. Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ executive order kicks in, passengers refused entry to US (online). The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January. Available at: https://www.smh.com.au/world/refugees-detained-at-us-airports-as-donald-trumps-antimuslim-executive-order-comes-into-force-20170129-gu0p5o.html (Accessed 29 January 2017).

7.  Notes


[1] This person’s question and some responses are at Christian Forums.net 2017. Couple of Questions (online), Silmarien#29. Throughout this article I address this individual personally as ‘you’ and ‘he’. Available at: https://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/couple-of-questions.68199/page-2 (Accessed 19 October 2018).

[2] The above biographical information is from Wikipedia (2018. s.v. Charles Templeton).

[3] The ‘e’ in this transliteration is the Greek letter eta and not epsilon. The normal transliteration of eta is an ‘e’ with an ellipse (straight line) above it. Unfortunately, when I upload from MS Word to my webpage, all ellipses for transliteration become question marks. I have not learned how to stop that from happening.

[4] Available at: https://ehrmanblog.org/why-i-am-not-a-christian/ (Accessed 18 October 2018).

[5] This is my reply at ‘Couple of Questions’, OzSpen#52, #53.

[6] Christianforums.net 2017. OzSpen 29 January 2017.

[7] The correct spelling is conservatism. See Oxford Living Dictionaries (2019. s.v. conservatism).

[8] Silmaren, Christian Forums.net.

[9] Kulish & Fernandez (2017).

[10] Silmaren (as above).

[11] See the differentiation between exegesis and eisegesis in What is the difference between exegesis and eisegesis? (Got Questions Ministries 2019).

[12] See examples of how I attempt to do this with my comments as OzSpen in this thread, Was Izzy Folau moral? On Line Opinion, 1 July 2019.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 08 September 2021.

Jesus, other gods, and culture

Petroglyphs in modern-day Gobustan, Azerbaijan, dating back to 10,000 BCE and indicating a thriving culture

(Courtesy Wikipedia, “Culture”)

By Spencer D Gear

A teenager asked this question: What is Christian culture? She attended a Christian school and this was one of her assignments.

My immediate response was: What is your understanding of the meaning of culture? There was uncertainty about what elements were included in culture.

Then pursued a discussion of how Jesus fits with all the other gods of other religions. I recommended Ravi Zacharias’s books that addressed these topics:

1. What is culture?

Oxford dictionaries online give these 3 definitions:

1.1 ‘Culture consists of activities such as the arts and philosophy . . . 

which are considered to be important for the development of civilization and of people’s minds’ (Oxford Dictionaries Online 2018. s.v. cullture

    e.g. ‘There is just not enough fun and frivolity in culture today’;
    e.g. ‘aspects of popular culture’.

Synonyms include both the arts and the humanities.

1.2 A culture is a particular society or civilization . . .

especially considered in relation to its beliefs, way of life, or art.

e.g. ‘people from different cultures.’
e.g. ‘We live in a culture that is competitive’.

Synonyms include: civilization, society, way of life, lifestyle; customs, traditions, heritage, habits, ways, mores, values

1.3 ‘The culture of a particular organization or group . . .

consists of the habits of the people in it and the way they generally behave’.

e.g. ‘She comes from a Christian culture, so you’d expect her to oppose

abortion’.

My understanding is that culture consists of the beliefs (in all aspects of life) and way of life of any group.
A Christian culture may vary from denomination to denomination or particular church to another church. However, a Christian culture, based on Scripture, will have beliefs that influence all areas of life. It will speak in music and art, speak up when the Christian world view is attacked and provide a defence of that world view.
At the core of Christian culture, in my understanding, is:

designRed-smallthe eternal, living, personal God who exists;

designRed-smallhuman beings are not created by chance; they are made in the image of God and so music, art, horse riding and gazing on the beauty of nature have meaning;

designRed-smallBecause God has revealed himself through Scripture, God is not silent to all human beings and especially those who have the Spirit of God indwelling them;

designRed-smallHuman beings are certain of human and moral values. They are absolutes;

designRed-smallWe know the difference among fantasy, fairy tales, history and the reality of Jesus’ actions in the world.

designRed-smallwhy some human beings are Christians on earth; they are here to glorify God;

designRed-smallIt is radically different from much of Australian culture which is godless (secular).[1]

All people live according to their world and life view. Australia’s culture currently is driven by a humanistic,[2] postmodern,[3] godless (secular) system of values.

2. Postmodernism’s influence

In simpler language, postmodernism (which we see in art, literature, religion and the mass media) promotes the view you do what is right for you – your own values; there are no absolute standards. Be creative in your interpretation.

2.1 Reader-response interpretation: Ignore literal meaning

Particularly in literature, the intent of the author is ignored. What is important is what I, the reader, do with the text. I interact with the text and place my meaning on it. This element of postmodernism deconstructs language to make it a reader-response to gain the meaning of any written narrative.

Dr Jeremy Koay explained reader-response this way:

The main argument of reader-response theory is that readers, as much as the text, play an active role in a reading experience (Rosenblatt, 1994). This theory rejects the structuralist view that meaning resides solely in the text. Words in a text evoke images in readers’ minds and readers bring their experiences to this encounter. Because individuals have different life experiences, it is almost certain that no two readers or reading sessions will form the exact same interpretation of a text. . . .

As there are as many interpretations of a text as there are readers, teachers should be more receptive to different responses from their students. Rather than focusing on the correct or wrong answers, it is worthwhile helping students explore their reasons for their interpretation of a text (Koay 2016).

Radical historical Jesus’ scholar, John Dominic Crossan, used reader-response theory to define history: ‘History is the past reconstructed interactively by the present through argued evidence in public discourse’ (Crossan 1998:20; 1999:3 emphasis in original).

For example,

Pluralism means we need to live among groups of minorities and let them function according to their values. If they don’t want to mix with us, let them be.

The late Francis Schaeffer wrote:

If there are no absolutes, and if we do not like either the chaos of hedonism or the absoluteness of the 51-percent vote, only one other alternative is left: one man or an elite, giving authoritative arbitrary absolutes . . . .
Here is a simple but profound rule: If there are no absolutes by which to judge society, then society is absolute (Schaeffer 1976:224).

Absolutes are rules, values, etc. that cannot change. They apply universally to everyone. When one of the 10 commandments was, ‘You shall not lie’, that is an absolute of God’s values for all believers.

2.2 Example of postmodern, reader-response interpretation of the Bible[4]

Professor of English, Lois Tyson, wrote of the two beliefs shared by reader-response theorists: ‘(1) that the role of the reader cannot be omitted from our understanding of literature and (2) that readers do not passively consume the meaning presented to them by an objective literary text; rather they actively make the meaning they find in literature’ (Tyson 2006:170).

She explained that the second belief suggests that different readers can not only read the same text differently but also that they may read the same text on two different occasions to ‘produce different meanings because so many variables contribute to our experience of the text’. Her explanation was that personal experiences between reading of the same text or a change in purpose ‘can all contribute to our production of different meanings for the same text’ (Tyson 2006:170).

Note her emphases that a reader-response postmodernism is creating or actively making the meaning. Thus, the role of the literary text is not an object to be interpreted but helps the reader to produce meaning, in Tyson’s view. How this happens between text and reader attracts a variety of explanations from theorists.

2.2.1 Summary of the reconstruction evidence

3d-gold-star-small Semiotics is understood as signs in language where anything is standing for something else.

3d-gold-star-small For poststructuralist semiotics (as with Ricoeur, Derrida and Gadamer), signs have broken their ties to what they are supposed to denote.

3d-gold-star-small Semiotics is in contrast with semantics where the latter indicates the relationship between words and meanings.

3d-gold-star-small An issue with poststructuralist theory is that the relationship between speaker and speech perishes with there being no fixed meaning.

3d-gold-star-small Vanhoozer’s thesis is that the author and the sentence are basic to communication. Without them, discussion about other things such as speech acts and meaning are impossible.

3d-gold-star-small There is an overlap of semantics and semiotics as both may depend on a distinction between the sign-system (traffic lights, road signs) and language-system (Thiselton).

3d-gold-star-small Semiotic theory in hermeneutics launches a postmodern understanding of texts with application to John Dominic Crossan’s definition of history.

3d-gold-star-small Some scholars have stated that Crossan applies to texts a “ruthless hermeneutic of suspicion.”

3. Works consulted

Crossan, J D 1998. The birth of Christianity: Discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco.

Crossan, J D 1999. Historical Jesus as risen Lord, in Crossan, J D, Johnson, L T & Kelber, W H, The Jesus controversy : Perspectives in conflict, 1-47. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International.

Eagleton, T 2003. After theory. New York: Basic Books.

Koay, J 2016. What is reader-response theory? edumaxi (online), 5 December. Available at: http://www.edumaxi.com/what-is-reader-response-theory/ (Accessed 28 August 2018).

Rosenblatt, L M 1993. The transactional theory: Against dualisms. College English, 55(4), 377-386.

Schaeffer, F A 1976. How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell.

Thiselton, A C 1980. The two horizons: New Testament hermeneutics and philosophical description with special reference to Heidegger, Bultmann, Gadamer and Wittgenstein. Grand Rapids,

MI: William B. Eerdmans.

Thiselton, A C 1992. New horizons in hermeneutics: The theory and practice of transforming biblical reading. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.

Tyson, L 2006. Critical theory today: A user-friendly guide, 2nd ed.[5] New York, NY/Milton Park, Abingdon Oxon: Routledge.

Vanhoozer, K J 1998. Is there a meaning in this text? The Bible, the reader and the morality of literary knowledge. Leicester: Apollos.

Vanhoozer, K J 2002. First theology: God, Scripture & hermeneutics. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press.

4.  Notes


[1] Lexico.com (Oxford Dictionary) defines ‘secular’ as ‘not connected with religious or spiritual matters’ (2021. s.v. secular); another dictionary explained secular ‘to describe things that have no connection with religion’ (Collins Dictionary 2021. s.v. secular).

[2] Humanism is ‘the principle that people’s spiritual and emotional needs can be satisfied without following a god or religion’ (Cambridge Dictionary 2018. s.v. humanism).

[3] ‘Postmodernism is skeptical of truth, unity, and progress, opposes what it sees as elitism in culture, tends toward cultural relativism, and celebrates pluralism, discontinuity, and heterogeneity’ (Eagleton 2003:13, n.1).

[4] This example is taken from my PhD dissertation, “Crossan and the resurrection of Jesus: Rethinking presuppositions, methods and models.”

[5] The original edition was published in 1999 (Tyson 2006:xi).

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 06 September 2021.

Evolutionists denying presuppositions of evolution

clip_image002

(image courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

I engage in some blogging on Christian forums. This is where I meet people who deny their evolutionary presuppositions. You need to go back further in this thread to pick up on where I started the my input. Begin on p. 295. By the nature of blogging, there are some rough narrative statements as I challenge an evolutionist, Bugey.

Evolution

Bugey,[1]

Don’t you have a presupposition that plant, animal and human life developed by survival of the fittest? That is, don’t you have an evolutionary premise to describe the origin of the earth and the universe? Do you presume macroevolution?

I don’t presume anything. I accept the Theory of Evolution as the best explanation of the biodiversity of life on this planet, sure – but that’s because of the evidence in support of it, not because I presupposed it then looked for reasons to support it afterwards… there’s a reason Evolution is taught in science classes almost universally all over the world.

Atheism

My response as OzSpen was:

As for faith/belief of atheism, it entails some of these dimensions articulated in:

clip_image004Critique arguments for God’s existence;
clip_image004[1]The problem of evil;
clip_image004[2]Morality and religion;
clip_image004[3]Miracles;
clip_image004[4]The motivations of belief, etc.

I don’t accept this. I’ve never read this book and reading the synopsis, it’s clear it’s a collection of writings, thoughts, ideas and arguments that non-believers have posited throughout the ages, but there’s nothing in this that required atheists to ‘believe’ or ‘accept’ these points, positions or arguments to be true in order to be atheists.

If anything, it might be a primer for someone who doesn’t understand atheism (or has recently become one/considered becoming one) to grasp the basics, or to understand the history of atheists before they were considered such a thing, but it’s not doctrine or required belief and you’re mistaken for thinking it is.

OzSpen (that’s me) said:

I could discuss other presuppositional beliefs such as

clip_image006 The nature of God/gods/no god;

clip_image006[1] You believe in a material universe that conforms to naturalistic laws and principles;

clip_image006[2] This life is the only life we will ever have;

clip_image006[3] The power of science, reason and rationality for understanding that overcomes superstition of religion;

clip_image006[4] etc.

Do you have any of these presuppositional beliefs?
Bugey:

Oz,

Well, not sure I would call it ‘presuppositional belief’ – after all, does a newborn baby presuppose it can’t talk or is that just the way it is? Anyhow, let me address what I can:

clip_image008 I have no idea of the nature of God(s) and have a myriad of different characteristics explained to me, none of which there seems to be evidence for – but I’m always open to it.

clip_image008[1] All the working models we have (as in collective human knowledge) are based on the natural laws and principles and is therefore meaningful in that we get results that are useful and technology that works because of it. This applies across all sciences and human endeavours of a scientific nature.

clip_image008[2] I have no idea what comes after this life although all the evidence we have indicates that we cease to exist once we undergo brain death. Everything we know about consciousness and mind seems to be intrinsically tied to the physical brain. Things that affect our brain directly affect our mind. We also have no examples of disembodied minds, or spirits (…whatever they are). Of course, would love to know about it if you have anything…

clip_image008[3] Critical thinking and rational discourse is (sic) something I’ve found to be invaluable in creating working models of the reality I experience. I don’t disparage peoples personal beliefs, unless I believe it to lead to irrational decisions that could be detrimental to the person carrying the belief, or the people in their care or that they’re responsible for. Anti-vaxxers who have children are prime examples…

OzSpen responded: This is where you are trying to kid me that you ‘don’t presume anything’, but still ‘accept the theory of evolution’.[2]
What is a theory?

It is “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained. ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution” (Oxford dictionaries online 2017. s.v. theory).

So a theory is a supposition, not a proof with evidence. Therefore, you do have a presupposition that the theory of evolution is true ‘as the best explanation of the biodiversity of life on this planet’. It has not been proven. If it had been, it would not be called a ‘theory’ but evidence.
A theory can’t be ‘the best explanation’ until it is tested and the evidence is found to support it. The testing of it also needs the ability to falsify it.
Your analogy about the new born baby doesn’t hold water.

I recommend the reading of two books by the same author, Michael Denton, written 30 years apart. They are:

clip_image010Michael Denton 1985. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis, Bethesda: Adler & Adler (image courtesy Wikipedia).

clip_image012Michael Denton 2016. Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis, Seattle: Discovery Institute Press.

Evolution in the classroom

Yes, there is a reason why evolution is taught nearly universally in the classroom. It’s the promotion of dogma without evidence for macroevolution. It comes with lots of fancy dresses to try to ‘prove’ evolution but it is really bluff. However, the younger youth don’t understand what you are trying to do in the classroom. It also means the God factor of the Creator God is denied and can’t be brought into the classroom because “it’s not science.”

I know it is like this in university classrooms. I heard it from doctoral lecturers and when I challenged what he was teaching and that it wasn’t fact. He said in the class before my peers: “That’s bull shit” and he didn’t abbreviate. He later apologised to me in private for what he said but never apologised in class.

You stated:

I have no idea of the nature of God(s) and have a myriad of different characteristics explained to me, none of which there seems to be evidence for – but I’m always open to it.

Evidence for God’s existence

You do have evidence, but you won’t accept it. God doesn’t believe in atheists. This is what he thinks about the evidence of His existence that you reject. I didn’t invent this. It is God’s estimate of your ability or inability to see God’s attributes in creation and what causes your blindness to them. With this evidence, you are ‘without excuse’ before God:

clip_image014(image of ‘fishing at sunrise,” PublicDomainPictures)

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them (
Romans 1:18-32 NIV, emphasis added).

Secularists suppress the truth of God

You have the evidence of God’s existence and his eternal power and divine nature right before you every day you live, but you turn God away. Why? Take a read of verse of Romans 1:18: ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness’.

That’s what all secularists, humanists, agnostics and atheists do, including you.
If you are ‘always open’ to the evidence, read that section of
Romans 1 again and again and get the understanding of why God does not believe in atheists and that they will be ‘without excuse’ when they face God in judgment. His existence is screaming at us all in creation every day we live.

Consider the beauty of a rose, the power of God to produce fruit on trees, and the power to sustain life of every person on the planet by producing the atmospheres (mostly oxygen) that we breathe.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Atmosphere_gas_proportions.png

(images courtesy Wikipedia)

Bugey, your presuppositions are too embedded to allow you – at the moment – to consider God’s view of the evidence for himself and the creation of the universe.

Bugey responded with this lengthy post (accompanied by my responses):[4]

OzSpen said:

This is where you are trying to kid me that you ‘don’t presume anything’, but still ‘accept the theory of evolution’.

Well, not kidding as I’ve explained to you already, I accept it as the best explanation of the biodiversity of life on this planet. Feel free to show me any other model and the evidence in support of it that produces actual real-world results we can use.

OzSpen said:

What is a theory? It is “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained. ‘Darwin’s theory of evolution’ (Oxford dictionaries online 2017. s v theory).

So a theory is a supposition, not a proof with evidence.

Well, it’s a model built on observation and evidence – otherwise it wouldn’t have been a scientific theory in the first place. You do know what a Scientific Theory is, right? It certainly isn’t a supposition without evidence… that’s just blinkered nonsense.

OzSpen said:

Therefore, you do have a presupposition that the theory of evolution is true ‘as the best explanation of the biodiversity of life on this planet’. It has not been proven. If it had been, it would not be called a ‘theory’.

Bugey: Whoa! Wait! How did the definition suddenly have a ‘Pre’ supposition attached to it? Where did that come from? Also, it seems you don’t know what a ‘Theory’ is as it relates to Science. In science, a ‘Theory’ is a well-established model of some aspect about reality; a Theory generally explains a body of facts, observations and can comprise of laws, formulas and conditions that apply; it provides an explanatory framework we can then use to make useful predictions about further observations and discoveries that the Theory would apply to – and I’ll touch on this in a sec. In short, there is no higher position an idea can hold in science than a Scientific Theory. It literally is the pinnacle of Science.

OzSpen said:

A theory can’t be ‘the best explanation’ until it is tested and the evidence is found to support it. The testing of it also needs the ability to falsify it.

Bugey: the Theory of Evolution is probably the most well-tested theory in all of science. We know more about Evolution than we do about Atoms, Gravity, the Big Bang and Germs.
Here are some (of the many) predictions made by the Theory of Evolution (from
Evolution myths: Evolution is not predictive):

Old age planet
Nevertheless, although evolution’s predictive power might appear limited, the theory can be and is used to make
predictions at all sorts of levels. Darwin realised that the Earth must be very old for there to have been enough time for all the life on it to evolve. It has turned out to be even older than he thought.
He also predicted that
transitional fossils would be discovered, and millions (trillions if you count microfossils) have been. Researchers have even been able to predict the age and kind of rocks in which certain transitional fossils should occur, as with the half-fish, half-amphibian Tiktaalik.
Or take the
famous peppered moth, which evolved black colouration to adapt to pollution-stained trees during industrialisation in Britain. Remove the pollution and the light strain should once again predominate, which is just what is happening.
Bugged by bugs
Perhaps the
most striking prediction in biology was made in 1975 by entomologist Richard Alexander. After studying the evolution of eusocial insects such as termites, he predicted that some burrowing rodents in the tropics might have evolved the same eusocial system – as later proved to be the case with the naked mole-rat.
Evolutionary theory can and increasingly is being put to
more practical use. For instance, if you genetically engineer crops to produce a pesticide, it is clear that resistant insect strains are likely to evolve. What is less obvious is that you can slow this process by growing regular plants alongside the GM ones, as was predicted and has turned out to be the case.
Many researchers developing treatments for infectious diseases now try to consider
how resistance could evolve and find ways to prevent it, for instance by giving certain drugs in combination. This slows the evolution of resistance because pathogens have to acquire several mutations to survive the treatment.
Most predictions relate to very specific aspects of evolutionary theory. If a eusocial mammal like the naked mole-rat had not been found, for instance, it would have proved only that Alexander’s ideas about the evolution of eusocial behaviour were probably wrong, not that there is anything wrong with the wider theory. However, some broad predictions – including the age of Earth, the existence of transitional fossils and the common origin of life – are crucial tests of the basic theory (see
Evolution cannot be disproved).?

If you want to see falsifiable tests for Evolution, continue on to read Evolution myths: Evolution cannot be disproved – I won’t copy/paste it all here… but in short, a falsification would be any of the following:

matte-red-arrow-small Human fossils found in the same layer as Dinosaurs.

matte-red-arrow-small Precambrian Rabbit fossil.

matte-red-arrow-small a feathered mammal, or a bird with mammary glands.

matte-red-arrow-small Any naturally occurring living organism (humans included) that don’t fit neatly in their place in the tree of life according to their evolved traits (i.e. all features are a subset modification of the features they are descended from)

matte-red-arrow-smalletc.

OzSpen said: Your analogy about the new born baby doesn’t hold water.

Bugey: Why? It’s one thing to assert it doesn’t, another thing to explain why. Do you disagree the baby doesn’t communicate by default, or do you think it had to presuppose it didn’t first? How is that different from a potential believer that may take up any number of religions available to them that isn’t Christianity, or perhaps not take one up at all until there’s an appropriate amount of evidence to indicate the correct religion to take up?

OzSpen said:

Yes, there is a reason why evolution is taught nearly universally in the classroom. It’s the promotion of dogma without evidence for macroevolution. It comes with lots of fancy dresses to try to ‘prove’ evolution but it is really bluff, but the younger youth don’t get what you are trying to do in the classroom. It also means the God factor of the Creator God is denied and can’t be brought into the classroom.

Bugey: No God is denied at all – it’s just that the topic of God doesn’t fall under the subject of Science – unless you have some method by which God could be scientifically considered? Anyway, as discussed above, there is no Dogma, there’s actually Evidence and testable predictions that make the Theory practical and useful. Do you deny vaccines exist? Do you deny that we can determine your relatedness to any other human (and for that matter any other life form on this planet) through your DNA? Do you deny we have made tremendous strides in farming and food production than ever before in human history?

Evidence for God’s existence

OzSpen said:

You do, but you won’t accept it. God doesn’t believe in atheists. This is what he thinks about the evidence of His existence that you reject. I didn’t invent this. It is God’s estimate of your ability or inability to see God’s attributes in creation and what causes your blindness to them. With this evidence, you are ‘without excuse’ before God:

Bugey: Okay, well why don’t I know this? Why hasn’t God made this known to me? there’s been more than ample time to make himself known to me before this (40+ years of open and honest inquiry before I took a scientific view of all religions…) – am I not important to him? Why would he give me a thinking apparatus and let me think otherwise with it if he wanted to have a personal relationship with me?

OzSpen said:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is for ever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worth while to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practise them (
Romans 1:18-32 NIV, emphasis added).

You have the evidence of God’s existence and his eternal power and divine nature right before you every day you live, but you you turn God away. Why? Take a read of verse 18.
That’s what all secularists, humanists, agnostics and atheists do, including yourself.

Bugey: Okay, who wrote this and how do you know? Why should this writing mean anything to anyone without (sic) knowing where it came from? Here’s the thing – the Theory of Evolution is backed by Evidence and practical use. What evidence do you have for these writings being authored by God, and of what practical use does it have in reality?

OzSpen said:

If you are ‘always open’ to the evidence, read that section of Romans 1 again and again and get the understanding of why God does not believe in atheists and that they will be ‘without excuse’ when they face God in judgment. His existence is screaming at us all in creation.

Bugey: I’ve read it many, many times. I’ve also read the Qur’An/Hadeef (though not in Arabic) and the Hindu Vedas. I’ve also looked into the Egyptian Religions from wence (sic) pretty much all middle east and european (sic) religions descended from, including the Abrahamic religions.

OzSpen said: “Bugey, your presuppositions are too embedded to allow you – at the moment – to consider God’s view of the evidence for himself and the creation of the universe.”

Bugey: Are you saying God isn’t powerful enough to prove he’s real even by personal revelation? I don’t accept your unsupported assertion that I have presuppositions and you certainly haven’t offered any evidence for it besides your own presupposition that your bible is written by a God, so is it that you aren’t taking this seriously, are you just trolling me to be funny?

Bugeyedcreepy said:[5]

Well, not kidding as I’ve explained to you already, I accept it as the best explanation of the biodiversity of life on this planet. Feel free to show me any other model and the evidence in support of it that produces actual real-world results we can use.

That was my error in not stating that science does not have the standard definition of ‘theory’, which is, ‘A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.’ (Oxford dictionaries online 2017. s v theory).

Science’s meaning of ‘theory’ is: ‘A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses’ (source).

Well, it’s a model built on observation and evidence – otherwise it wouldn’t have been a scientific theory in the first place. You do know what a Scientific Theory is, right? It certainly isn’t a supposition without evidence… that’s just blinkered nonsense.

Evolution can’t be based on observation of evolutionary processes for macroevolution as they happened. You and I were not there to see the dinosaurs and humans deposited in the same layers of rock.

Whoa! Wait! How did the definition suddenly have a ‘Pre’supposition attached to it? Where did that come from?

OzSpen: Your presupposition is that you only interpret the evidence in creation from an evolutionary perspective. You do not consider the evidence from historical science, as found in Scripture. By the way, historical science also is science. You say,

the Theory of Evolution is probably the most well-tested theory in all of science. We know more about Evolution than we do about Atoms, Gravity, the Big Bang and Germs.

So what? That doesn’t prove that it is correct when you censor other information that doesn’t fit within science’s worldviews. You say,

I’ve also looked into the Egyptian Religions from wence (sic) pretty much all middle east and european (sic) religions descended from, including the Abrahamic religions.

There you have more of your presuppositions. The evidence of the reliable Scriptures contradicts that view.

If you want to see falsifiable tests for Evolution, continue on to read Evolution myths: Evolution cannot be disproved – I won’t copy/paste it all here… but in short, a falsification would be any of the following:

clip_image018 Human fossils found in the same layer as Dinosaurs.

clip_image018[1] Precambrian Rabbit fossil.

See what you’ve done with your evolutionary presuppositions!

Human fossils can be found in the same layer as dinosaurs but that doesn’t have to be the best explanation. Ever heard of evidence uncovered in support of the destruction of every living thing on the earth through Noah’s Flood (Genesis 6).

clip_image020

Full size interpretation of Noah’s Ark in Dordrecht, The Netherlands (Wikipedia)

clip_image018 Even your use of ‘Precambrian’ is an evolutionary view (see Origin of life, Precambrian evolution).

Bugey: No God is denied at all – it’s just that the topic of God doesn’t fall under the subject of Science – unless you have some method by which God could be scientifically considered? Anyway, as discussed above, there is no Dogma, there’s actually Evidence and testable predictions that make the Theory practical and useful.

OzSpen: Your claim is that evolution is ‘a model built on observation and evidence – otherwise it wouldn’t have been a scientific theory in the first place’.
God has given you some of the evidence in
Romans 1:18-32. Your mind is closed to that information you can investigate in creation. Why? It because of your naturalistic presuppositions!!
You can’t accept that criteria used to test the reliability of any document, including the writings of The Australian newspaper of 30 years ago, Captain Cook’s journals, and those criteria find the New Testament to be reliable.

If we reject the authenticity of the New Testament on textual grounds we’d have to reject every ancient work of antiquity and declare null and void every piece of historical information from written sources prior to the beginning of the second millennium A.D. (Is the New Testament text reliable? Greg Koukl).?

Bugey:

Okay, well why don’t I know this? Why hasn’t God made this known to me? there’s been more than ample time to make himself known to me before this (40+ years of open and honest inquiry before I took a scientific view of all religions…) – am I not important to him? Why would he give me a thinking apparatus and let me think otherwise with it if he wanted to have a personal relationship with me?

OzSpen: You DO know this information about God’s creation as he has revealed it to you in Scripture and creation. But you are not open to receive it. God is not going to hit you with a bolt of Canberra lightning (I used to pastor a church in the ACT) to make you sit up and take notice of God’s existence.
What did Jesus say about the evidence? In the story he told about the rich man and Lazarus, one experiencing blessedness and the other torment, this is recorded:

‘He said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”’ (Luke 16:31).?

If you won’t believe the evidence for God in creation, and the evidence in a reliable Bible, you won’t be convinced even if God would raise someone from the dead – or you were hit by a lightning bolt. Or, if I continue to reason with you. Wouldn’t you agree that at this present time you are NOT open to consider the evidence in Scripture? If that is so, why do you come onto a Christian forum to spread your evolutionary message?
All human beings who reject the reliable evidence in Scripture do so because of what
Romans 1:18 states, ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness’ (NIV)

Bugey:

Okay, who wrote this and how do you know? Why should this writing mean anything to anyone without knowing where it came from? Here’s the thing – the Theory of Evolution is backed by Evidence and practical use. What evidence do you have for these writings being authored by God, and of what practical use does it have in reality?

OzSpen: Are you a textual critic who has investigated why the Bible, both OT and NT, is a book of reliable, trustworthy, credible documents? Many have written advanced doctorates on this topic. I did it myself. I have a PhD in New Testament in which I investigated a dimension of the historical Jesus – 482pp dissertation.
The NT’s and OT’s reliability are based on evidence – not evolutionary evidence – but textual evidence. You have given me standard throw-away lines from atheists. Take a read of F. F. Bruce,
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
I don’t expect you to be open to that evidence because of your presuppositional bias to reject such evidence. You haven’t demonstrated that you are open to ALL of the evidence. You appear to be open only to evolutionary scientific evidence and not historical science that investigates the truthfulness of any historical document.

Bugey:

Are you saying God isn’t powerful enough to prove he’s real? even by personal revelation? I don’t accept your unsupported assertion that I have presuppositions and you certainly haven’t offered any evidence for it besides your own presupposition that your bible is written by a God, so is it that you aren’t taking this seriously, are you just trolling me to be funny?

OzSpen: He has already proven he’s real in creation and through the death and resurrection of Jesus. You’ll know about his reality in a very different way at his Second Coming. See: What will happen when Jesus comes again?

I pray that you will be open to ALL of the evidence and not listen to your selective hearing and reading.

Bungle_Bear replied:[6]

OzSpen said:

There is another one of your presuppositions. The evidence of the reliable Scriptures contradicts that view.

Bugey: And here is the most enormous presupposition – you presuppose that the Bible is the word of god. Once we drop that presupposition and look solely at evidence we find the Bible to be less than convincing.

OzSpen: God has given you some of the evidence in Romans 1:18-32. Your mind is closed to that information that you can investigate in creation. Why? Your naturalistic presuppositions!!

Whose presupposition is it that the Bible is the word of God?

If we reject the authenticity of the New Testament on textual grounds we’d have to reject every ancient work of antiquity and declare null and void every piece of historical information from written sources prior to the beginning of the second millennium A.D. (Is the New Testament text reliable? Greg Koukl).?

Bugey: Nonsense. The problem with NT is that there are no other texts or physical evidence supporting them. Most texts we consider reliable have multiple verifying sources. Mr Koukl is relying on false equivalence to make this statement.

Are you a textual critic who has investigated why the Bible, both OT and NT, is a book of reliable, trustworthy, credible documents? Many have written advanced doctorates on this topic. I did it myself. I have a PhD in New Testament in which I investigated a dimension of the historical Jesus – 482pp dissertation.

Other than the Bible, what documentary evidence did you use?

The NT’s and OT’s reliability are based on evidence – not evolutionary evidence – but textual evidence. You have given me standard throw-away lines from atheists. Take a read of F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?

There is nothing in that book to indicate the documents are anything other than stories. The whole argument appears to be “the documents were written between 20 and 70 years after Jesus death, therefore they must be accurate.”

I don’t expect you to be open to that evidence because of your presuppositional bias to reject such evidence. You haven’t demonstrated that you are open to ALL of the evidence. You appear to be open only to evolutionary scientific evidence and not historical science that investigates the truthfulness of any historical document.

Please provide evidence for the truthfulness of the NT documents.

Bungle,[7]
Whose presupposition is it that the Bible is the word of God?

Why are you repeating your question to try to uncover your FALSE understanding of my views?
clip_image021OzSpen: Other than the Bible, what documentary evidence did you use?

In this question, you assume 2 errors:

  1. Documentary evidence outside of the Bible is needed to confirm its authenticity.
  2. The Bible’s documentary evidence is fake and is of no use in determining the trustworthiness of the Bible documents.

Is it true that these are your assumptions? You say:

Nonsense. The problem with NT is that there are no other texts or physical evidence supporting them. Most texts we consider reliable have multiple verifying sources. Mr Koukl is relying on false equivalence to make this statement.

Sadly, this demonstrates the ‘nonsense’ you are promoting here. You don’t want to acknowledge that texts and physical evidence outside of the Bible exist that affirm the authenticity of OT and NT.
There are three primary tests that historians use to determine the historical veracity of a document:

In his book, Introduction in Research in English Literary History, C. Sanders sets forth three tests of reliability employed in general historiography and literary criticism. These tests are:

clip_image023 Bibliographical (i.e., the textual tradition from the original document to the copies and manuscripts of that document we possess today);

clip_image023[1] Internal evidence (what the document claims for itself);

clip_image023[2] External evidence (how the document squares or aligns itself with facts, dates, persons from its own contemporary world).

I have attempted to unravel this evidence in these 4 articles:

clip_image025 Can you trust the Bible? Part 1

clip_image025[1] Can you trust the Bible? Part 2

clip_image025[2] Can you trust the Bible? Part 3

clip_image025[3] Can you trust the Bible? Part 4

It might be noteworthy to mention that Sanders is a professor of military history, not a theologian. He uses these three tests of reliability in his own study of historical military events (Dr Patrick Zukeran, Understanding Archaeology).?

It is you who is creating your own dilemma. You are demonstrating you are not a textual critic who understands the rules/criteria for determining reliability of any historical document. You stated:

There is nothing in that book [by F. F. Bruce] to indicate the documents are anything other than stories. The whole argument appears to be “the documents were written between 20 and 70 years after Jesus death, therefore they must be accurate.”

Here you claim that F.F. Bruce’s book, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable, is demonstrating ‘The whole argument appears to be “the documents were written between 20 and 70 years after Jesus’ death, therefore they must be accurate’
That is bunk and it is not the evidence provided by the Professor of New Testament at Manchester University in the UK, the late F F Bruce, in that book.

Please provide evidence for the truthfulness of the NT documents. I already have, but you are not listening. Your anti-biblical presuppositions are standing in the way of your being able to examine the bibliographical and archaeological evidence objectively.

What did you do in your post?

  1. You misrepresented my view and so created a straw man logical fallacy.
  2. You demonstrated you don’t understand the criteria for determining the accuracy of any historical document, including the OT and NT.
  3. I provided the evidence, but your atheistic presuppositions are a barrier to being open to ALL the evidence.

See my articles:

clip_image025[4] Can Jesus Christ’s resurrection be investigated as history?

 

clip_image025[5] Evidence for the afterlife

clip_image025[6] Evidence for Jesus: Testing the transmission evidence

 

clip_image025[7] The Bible’s support for inerrancy of the originals

clip_image027



Notes:

[1] Christian Forums.com 2017. proving evolution as just a “theory” (online), Bugeyedcreepy#5923. Available at: https://www.christianforums.com/threads/proving-evolution-as-just-a-theory.8028023/page-297#post-72111097 (Accessed 10 April 2018)..

[2] OzSpen, ibid., 5930.

[3] “What’s in the air?” https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/air-quality/whats-in-the-air.

[4] Bugseyed, ibid,, #5946.

[5] OzSpen, ibid., #5963.

[6] Bungle_Bear, ibid., #5971.

[7] OzSpen, ibid., #6038.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 19 June 2021.

When will bigots quit bullying Margaret Court?

(Pastor Margaret Court AO, MBE, OAM: Court at the net in 1970, courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

This article was first published in the Australian e-journal, On Line Opinion, When will bigots quit bullying Margaret Court? 27 January 2021.

clip_image002

It has hit the fan again in pronouncing Australian grand slam singles’ tennis champion, Margaret Court, “a bigot” for her views on homosexuality and gay marriage. The yelling has come because she has received the highest civilian honour of the level of the Order of Australia, “The Companion of the Order of Australia,” on Australia Day, 26 January 2021.

I’m using bigot according to the customary English definition, as referring to “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion” (dictionary.com 2021. s.v. “bigot”). The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) gives a more detailed definition as referring to “a person who is obstinately or unreasonably attached to a belief, opinion, or faction, especially one who is prejudiced against or antagonistic towards a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group” (lexico.com 2021. s.v. “bigot”).

How is Margaret Court a bigot?

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, slammed “the decision to honour Mrs Margaret Court, saying he didn’t want to give her “disgraceful, bigoted views any oxygen. “I think calling out bigotry is always important,” he said. He then later reiterated his disapproval of the honour on Twitter: “Grand Slam wins don’t give you some right to spew hatred and create division. Nothing does,” he wrote.

He spoke of the proposed granting of the Order of Australia (OAM) to Margaret Court on 26 January 2021. Why is the winner of 24 grand slam, singles, tennis championships a bigot according to Daniel Andrews? His claim is her stand on the Bible’s view of homosexuality and marriage is the practice of bigotry. He wouldn’t use the language of the Bible’s view but the media are happy to label her a fundamentalist Christian.

Let’s get it straight Premier Daniel Andrews.

Who is being the bigot? Is it Margaret Court who promotes the Bible’s view on sex and the marriage relationship or is it Daniel Andrews who is so enamored with the LGBTQ agenda that he can’t see the trees for the mulga? Does he need their views for votes at the next election?

Let’s get something straight. From the mouth of Margaret Court: She does not discriminate against homosexuals. She ‘loves’ them: “She insists although the bible stands against homosexuality she ‘loves’ and supports gay people through her church.”

The media and Premier Andrews regularly have a vendetta against Margaret, forgetting to tell the people that this was Jesus’ view of the marriage relationship: “God said, ‘That is why a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. And the two people will become one’” (Matthew 19:5, citing Genesis 2:24).

Jesus did not need to say: “Homosexuals should not marry.” That was contained by inference in his statement that “a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.” Wives were female in the time of Jesus. Jesus did not support the view that “a man will leave his father and mother and be joined (in sex) with another male.”

Was Jesus also being a bigot against homosexuals like Margaret Court is being accused of? Surely the media and Daniel Andrews would place Jesus also in the category of a bigot!

Bigotry is a serious Australian issue.

Daniel Andrews’ believes “calling out bigotry is always important. I don’t seek to quarrel with people but I’m asked a question and I’ve answered it.” This is one point on which I agree with Mr Andrews. It’s important to identify bigotry. Why can’t Mr Andrews see that his calling Margaret Court a bigot has caused much harm to her personally and the evangelical Christian community – those who take the Bible seriously?

Daniel Andrews 2018.jpg

The Honourable Daniel Andrews in 2018

48th Premier of Victoria
Elections: 2014, 2018 (Image courtesy Wikipedia)

Mr Andrews can’t get a handle on his own bigotry of being “utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.” His bigotry opposes an eminent Australian sportswoman who promotes a biblical world view on marriage and sexuality. It has been endorsed by the Christian Church for two millennia. But Mr Andrews considers it’s suitable for him to label Margaret Court the bigot and not call himself out as a bigoted, left-wing Labor Premier.

Mr Premier, it’s time for you to own up to your own opposition to Margaret Court’s world view and call your opposition for what it is – bigotry.

I’m a bigot when it comes to going to the doctor when blood is seeping through my urine. I discriminate at elections. I vote for the party whose values most consistently harmonise with my Christian world view. I will not support a party that murders unborn children and calls it a mother’s choice and does not make this a criminal offense.

In Australia, it is now illegal to kill, trap, poison or interfere with wedge-tailed eagles in any way. “In Queensland waters all whales, dolphins, dugong, seals, sea lions, marine turtles and threatened sharks are protected under the provisions of the Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Qld) and relevant subordinate legislation.”

Aren’t these bigoted, discriminatory actions against this wildlife? Of course it is in order to protect these animals. However, it’s not a criminal offence to slaughter unborn children in the womb. When will Australian governments grapple with the legalised murder they endorse?

Since a bigot is one who “is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion,” by definition that makes Dan Andrews a bigot towards someone who is an outspoken supporter of the Bible’s view. For 2,000 years this has been taught by the Christian church but when Margaret Court dares to be faithful to her God-given commission, she is called out as a bigot by Daniel Andrews.

When will Dan Andrews also get a handle on how discriminatory his words are towards Margaret Court that should be considered persecution or bullying of Mrs Court? 7Sport (23 Jan 2021) had the headline, “Margaret Court says she’s being ‘bullied’ and it’s time for critics to stop.”

“Bullying” refers to a “person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable” (OED 2021. s.v. “bully”). The OED gives synonyms of bully as persecutor, oppressor, tyrant, tormentor, browbeater, intimidator, coercer, and subjugator. Margaret Court considers she is being bullied and persecuted. By these definitions, that’s the truth. The media, some tennis players, and a Premier such as Daniel Andrews have bullied, persecuted and browbeaten Margaret Court. It is time for these people to own up to their bullying and persecution tactics and quit doing them immediately.

Let’s black mail Margaret Court!

Two factors need to be noted before I comment on this example. “She” is a transgender person and “she” is an activist who could not tolerate a person who supported a biblical Christian’s view of sexuality and marriage. “She” did not use the language of anything to do with a Christian world view.

How would you react to the title of this article? “Canberra doctor hands back OAM in protest against Margaret Court’s Australia Day honour” (SBS News, 24 January 2021)?

The essence of the story relates to Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo AO, who was recognised in 2016 for her work as a medical practitioner with LGBTIQ+ and HIV positive communities. The issue that is causing the furore in 2021 is that Dr Soo is handing back her AO because the decision to award Australia’s highest honour to Margaret Court is made to a person who has made comments that are “disparaging of same-sex relationships and transgender people” and that has been “very distressing.” For a photograph of Dr Soo, see: https://www.news.com.au/sport/tennis/australian-open/doctor-hands-back-oam-amid-margaret-court-controversy/news-story/17b1183ec9e0f3ce4cf698b13bdf61f6

Dr Soo continued:

If the honour awards people like Margaret Court, it is sending a message to the community that is okay to make hateful, derogatory comments about disadvantaged segments of the community…. And I felt that if I actually retained my award, I would be condoning that system.

It must be noted that Dr Soo is discriminatory towards Margaret Court’s Christian world view. Dr Soo let us peer into her agenda. She told SBS News, “I may also add that I have spent most of my adult life as a gay man before my gender transition to a woman in 2018. Therefore, have both professional experience as well as lived experience of the communities that Mrs Margaret Court makes these derogatory and hurtful remarks about.”

Leading ABC commentator, Kerry O’Brien, has done the same thing. He has refused to accept the AO medal on Australia Day 2021.

Mr O’Brien had earlier agreed to accept his appointment as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in Tuesday’s official honours [26 Jan 2021]. But on Saturday, he wrote to reverse his decision in protest against Mrs Court’s elevation in an awards system that had already recognised her achievements as the winner of 24 Grand Slam singles tennis titles, and her charity work, with an Order of Australia in 2007 (The Sydney Morning Herald, Kerry O’Brien refuses Order of Australia after Margaret Court honour, 25 January 2021).

Getting honest definitions

There are some queer statements made by those who are anti- the homosexual agenda and those who are pro- the Christian perspective. I’m using “queer” in the sense of strange or odd (OED 2021. s.v. “queer”).

This queer definition places homosexuality outside the purview of being able to criticise it and present a different view. That makes the pro-homosexual position one of bigotry or discriminatory.

This queer definition makes Christianity’s biblical views of homosexuality into bigotry when compared with the politically correct perspectives promoting gays as a viable lifestyle supported by the general populace.

ABC News (21 Jan 2021) reported Margaret Court’s views of her statements about homosexuality and marriage:

I am a minister of the Gospel, I have been a pastor for 30 years,” she said.

I teach the bible, what God says in the Bible and I think that is my right and my privilege to be able to bring that forth.

I’m not going to change my opinions and views, and I think it’s very important for freedom of speech that we can say our beliefs….

I think it’s very sad people hold on to that and still want to bully, and I think it’s time to move on.

Pastor Margaret Court said she was “honoured” to learn of her new award for tennis on the court and her work off the court.

I still represent my nation, I pray for my nation, I pray for the LGBT, I pray for the premiers in this nation and the Prime Minister,” she said.

When asked about the hurt her views on homosexuality may cause to LGBT people, Ms Court said she never turned people away.

“I have them come in here, I have them into community services from every different background, I never turn them away,” she said.

“And I was never really pointing the finger at them as an individual. I love all people, I have nothing against people, but I’m just saying what the bible says.”

The 78-year-old said she was disappointed about how her views had been portrayed in the media and feels she was singled out due to her “high profile” (ABC News, 23 January 2021).

Conclusion

The facts are:

(1) The Christian world view and its view on sex, including homosexuality, will always be a country mile from the secular (godless) view. It will be labelled as bigotry or discrimination, without bothering to check that the secular, pro-LGBTIQ view is just as bigoted and discriminatory.

(2) Those who call Margaret Court’s Christian view on marriage to be bigoted and discriminatory are blind to the fact that their opposition to Court’s view presents another – but different – bigoted approach to reality.

(3) Margaret Court promotes Jesus’ vies that marriage is between a man and his female wife in first century culture, customs and biblical Christianity.

How can this be resolved?

  • Get journalists, Premiers, doctors and other people in the media to be more careful with their words. I can’t see that happening.
  • Examine the presuppositions underlying a person’s statements. The likelihood of Daniel Andrews agreeing with Margaret Court’s world view is zero. He needs to admit that up front: “I have an agenda and it is not Christian. In fact, it is anti-Christian and I won’t change my mind.”
  • Margaret Court has already admitted, “I should always be able to say my views biblically, being a pastor and helping people with marriages and family. And I’ll never change those views.”

Remember the safety against religious bigotry in the Australian Constitution:

Section 116

4.2

The starting point in any discussion about religious freedom in Australia is section 116 of the Australian Constitution:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

4.3

There are four prohibitions on the Commonwealth in this section:

  • establishing any religion
  • imposing any religious observation
  • prohibiting the free exercise of any religion
  • requiring a religious test as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

Therefore, for Daniel Andrews to prevent Margaret Court from the free exercise of the teachings on Christianity, he violates one of the prohibitions, “the free exercise of any religion,” guaranteed by the Australian Constitution.

Copyright © 2021 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 27 January 2021.

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Why would people need God? Part 2

By Spencer D Gear PhD

1.  Why would anyone need this?

clip_image006 clip_image008

(Image courtesy Wikipedia)[1];                           (Image courtesy Wikipedia)[2]

This is the most venomous snake in the world. Why would anyone need the inland (or western) taipan snake? It’s located in outback Australia. See the red distribution on this Australian map:

“While the inland taipan is regarded as the world’s most venomous snake based on LD50 tests on mice, it is a shy species and rarely strikes, and has not caused any known human fatalities. On the other hand, India’s Big Four (Indian cobra, common krait, Russell’s viper, and saw-scaled viper), while less venomous than the inland taipan, are found in closer proximity to human settlements and are more confrontational, thus leading to more deaths from snakebite”.[3]

Aboriginal Australians named this snake, Dandarabilla. ‘One bite’s worth of venom is enough to kill 100 fully grown men’. What does it eat? In the wild, it eats mammals (females who feed young on milk produced by mammary glands), rats, and house mice. When in captivity, they eat day-old chickens. You can find them in various zoos around Australia.[4]

But, why would anyone NEED inland, western taipans?

Unlike most snakes, the inland taipan is a specialist mammal hunter so its venom is specially adapted to kill warm-blooded species’.[5] Mammals have fur and mammary glands for them to produce milk that is necessary for their newborn babies. Examples of mammals include: rats, bats, human beings, monkeys, whales, dolphins,[6] cats, dogs & seals. In 2005 there were ‘5,416 different species of mammals. However, the exact number of recognized mammal species fluctuates as new species are described.[7]

This taipan also kills rats and mice in the wild in the outback.

But can you see any useful need for this inland western taipan? In the outback where crops are grown, wouldn’t it be good for the farmers to have the rats and mice killed who destroy their crops?

2. There is something other than physical organs we have inside us.

What do we call it or them?

5tn_.jpg 1.1K  Jesus said: ‘And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?’ (Mark 8:36);

5tn_.jpg 1.1K When Jesus died, what did he say to God the Father? ‘Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last’ (Matt 23:46).

So there is an unseen internal part of every human being that is called the soul or spirit. I will concentrate on another invisible part that all of us have. This is how Scripture describes it:

Everyone has a conscience. This makes us alert to what is right and wrong.

The Bible also says that God has revealed Himself people through their consciences. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Those who are not Jews don’t have the law. But when they naturally do what the law commands without even knowing the law, then they are their own law. This is true even though they don’t have the written law.

They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty. And sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done right, and this makes them not guilty (Rom 2:14-15 ERV).

Did you get the meaning about the non-Jews, also called Gentiles, when it comes to deciding right from wrong? ‘They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, the same as the law commands, and their consciences agree. Sometimes their thoughts tell them that they have done wrong, and this makes them guilty’.

All have consciences. For people who don’t have access to a Bible, whether that is a tribe in Africa, Papua New Guinea, Asia, or South America, thye have consciences. According to Wycliffe Bible Translators:

clip_image012*October 2018 Statistics[8]

to tell them what God says is right and wrong, what do all people have to give them these ethical guidelines?

Our consciences.

According to Wycliffe Bible Translators:

There are an estimated 250 million people without access to any Scripture in the language that speaks to them best and may need some form of Bible translation to begin. At least 1.5 billion people are without the full Bible in their first language….

There is known active translation and/or linguistic development happening in 2,659 languages worldwide.[9]

Now we have 3 pieces of evidence for God’s existence:

clip_image014 Unseen gravity.

clip_image016 Invisible nitrogen and oxygen we breathe.

clip_image018 The conscience.

All of these are invisible things but we know they exist because of what they do. We can know they exist by the way they perform.

Are they good enough reasons for believing in God? If not, why not?

3. A time when everything on earth will be burned up

The Bible teaches that everything in the universe will end – including gravity – and it will happen this way:

But the day when the Lord comes again will surprise everyone like the coming of a thief. The sky will disappear with a loud noise. Everything in the sky will be destroyed with fire. And the earth and everything in it will be burned up. Everything will be destroyed in this way. So what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and devoted to God. You should be looking forward to the day of God, wanting more than anything else for it to come soon. When it comes, the sky will be destroyed with fire, and everything in the sky will melt with heat. But God made a promise to us. And we are waiting for what he promised—a new sky and a new earth. That will be the place where goodness lives.

Dear friends, we are waiting for this to happen. So try as hard as you can to be without sin and without fault. Try to be at peace with God (2 Peter 3:10-14 ERV).

Is this meant to be taken literally – the earth and the heavens being burned up or destroyed? They certainly are. We know this from the verses that come before these:

It is important for you to understand what will happen in the last days. People will laugh at you. They will live following the evil they want to do. 4 They will say, “Jesus promised to come again. Where is he? Our fathers have died, but the world continues the way it has been since it was made.”

5 But these people don’t want to remember what happened long ago. The skies were there, and God made the earth from water and with water. All this happened by God’s word. 6 Then the world was flooded and destroyed with water. 7 And that same word of God is keeping the skies and the earth that we have now. They are being kept to be destroyed by fire. They are kept for the day of judgment and the destruction of all people who are against God (2 Peter 3:3-7 ERV).

This will happen in the last days before Jesus returns:

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon People will laugh and scoff at Christians. Is that happening today? Who’s a scoffer? The scoffer will laugh at or say things to show that the other person or thing ‘is stupid or deserves no respect’.[10] They will poke fun at or ridicule Christians.

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon They will make fun of the fact that Jesus has not returned (and it’s 2,000 years since his crucifixion);

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon The folks in the last days don’t want to acknowledge the truth that God made the skies and the earth.

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Creation happened by God’s word – He spoke it into existence.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon That same word keeps the skies and the earth going as they are today.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Then the world was flooded and destroyed with water (speaking of God’s flood in Noah’s day).

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon That same word by God is keeping the skies and earth going now.

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon They will be kept going until God destroys them by fire;

 

Single-dotted Wave 25-06-09 Gregson Lane Graham Dixon Then will come God’s judgment day for all people who are against God.

 

Could it be clearer?

clip_image019 The universe will be burned up.
clip_image019[1] This lead’s to God’s judgment of ALL people who do not know and love God. These are those opposed to God.

Since the entire universe will be destroyed, does that mean it is all over red rover for planet earth and the galaxies?

Not at all. But Christians will never ever have to be exposed to the Christchurch massacre, slaughter of Christians in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Sudan, Middle East and elsewhere.

It will be a world of total love, joy, peace and God’s justice. Rape, sexual abuse, terrorist bombers, and DV are gone forever, as are lies, adulteries and stealing.

If you think this will be paradise on earth, it will be for the people of God.

The next verse in 2 Peter 3 gives the answer: ‘But we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. Godliness will live there. All this is in keeping with God’s promise’ (2 Pet 3:13 NIRV).

clip_image019[2] New heaven & new earth

clip_image019[3] Where godliness dwells

This promise is guaranteed by God’s truthfulness and all that He is in qualities of character.

4. All people need God to create them and to keep them living on earth.

The Apostle Paul and his friends, Silas and Timothy, were in Athens, Greece. Paul told his Good News message in the public square and some philosophers went to argue with him.

They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus Council in Athens. It was a legal council that met on a hill in Athens. ‘It was the central governing body of Athens’ but then became a legal court for ‘homicide and other serious crimes’.[11]

The philosophers accused him …

18 Some of the Epicurean and some of the Stoic philosophers argued with him.

Some of them said, “This man doesn’t really know what he is talking about. What is he trying to say?” Paul was telling them the Good News about Jesus and the resurrection. So they said, “He seems to be telling us about some other gods.”

19 They took Paul to a meeting of the Areopagus council. They said, “Please explain to us this new idea that you have been teaching. 20 The things you are saying are new to us. We have never heard this teaching before, and we want to know what it means (Acts 17:18-20 ERV).

What was this strange teaching by Paul? This is what he told the Council:

24 “He is the God who made the whole world and everything in it. He is the Lord of the land and the sky. He does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 He is the one who gives people life, breath, and everything else they need. He does not need any help from them. He has everything he needs. 26 God began by making one man, and from him he made all the different people who live everywhere in the world. He decided exactly when and where they would live.

27 “God wanted people to look for him, and perhaps in searching all around for him, they would find him. But he is not far from any of us. 28 It is through him that we are able to live, to do what we do, and to be who we are. As your own poets have said, ‘We all come from him’ (Acts 17:24-28 ERV).

What is your tongue used for?

1.  It helps you speak better.
2. It helps you taste better.
3. It helps you to eat and drink.
4.  Girls have more taste buds than boys.
5.  It helps you to say nice or nasty things. Which is the better one?

6. “God himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things … in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24-25, 28).

These Bible verses tell us:

5. Who created human beings

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIRV)

13 You created the deepest parts of my being.
You put me together inside my mother’s body.
14 How you made me is amazing and wonderful.
I praise you for that.
What you have done is wonderful.
I know that very well.
15 None of my bones was hidden from you
when you made me inside my mother’s body.
That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth.
When you were putting me together there,
16 your eyes saw my body even before it was formed.
You planned how many days I would live.
You wrote down the number of them in your book
before I had lived through even one of them.

That’s why we need God. We wouldn’t be here without his making us inside our mother’s body and keeping us in this world.

6. What makes aeroplanes fly?

Have you seen a very big aeroplane such as the Airbus A380? At the time this curriculum was written, it was the largest passenger plane in the world. It can take 853 passengers but generally takes 525 passengers.

clip_image021 clip_image023
An A380-800 of Emirates, the largest operator of the aircraft (courtesy Wikipedia).[12] Photo: Four forces act on a plane in flight. When the plane flies horizontally at a steady speed, lift from the wings exactly balances the plane’s weight and the thrust exactly balances the drag. However, during takeoff, or when the plane is attempting to climb in the sky (as shown here), the thrust from the engines pushing the plane forward exceeds the drag (air resistance) pulling it back. This creates a lift force, greater than the plane’s weight, which powers the plane higher into the sky. Photo by Nathanael Callon courtesy of US Air Force[13]

What causes the Airbus to fly in the air? It has BIG engines. We can explain how the engines work by science (as in the diagram above), BUT …

coil-gold People have to build the Airbus;

 

coil-goldSomebody has to put fuel into it and start it;

 

coil-gold There have to be pilots trained to fly it and hostesses on board to help people who travel in it;

coil-gold The Airbus could not have been made without using science of engines and aeronautics alone,

coil-gold But to make the engines and planes, it takes people.

Who made people?There would be no Airbus made without people. Jesus said, ‘But “God made them male and female” from the beginning of creation’ (Mark 10:6 NLT).

7. Conclusion: Why would people need God?

The Christian answer is:

  • God made everything, including gravity and our breathing system;
  • God keeps us and the world going. We need him to continue living.
  • Even large planes cannot fly without human beings whom God has made.
  • We need God for so much more:

clip_image014[1]He gives sunlight and sends rain on the just and unjust – Matt 5:45

clip_image016[1]He changes the way we treat other people:

      (a) Love your enemies: Matt 5:43-45a (ERV),

You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[14] and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven…

What would life be like in this country if we lived like this? That is Plain Sailing Christianity.

(b) Golden rule: ‘Do for others what you would want them to do for you. This is the meaning of the Law of Moses and the teaching of the prophets’ (Matt 7:12 ERV).

(c) Fruit of the Spirit: ‘But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things’ (Galatians 5:24-25 ERV).

These are the fruit that grow in Christians lives. They are qualities of character.

clip_image025(image courtesy Wikipedia)[15]

 

This song by the Beatles, ‘All You Need Is Love’, was released in the UK on 7 July 1967. It became a hit single record, topping the record sales charts in the UK and the USA. It was the featured British song ‘performed by the band during the first live global television show “Our World”. Over 400 million people from 25 countries watched its broadcast on the 25th of June 1967’.[16]

The song ends with, ‘She loves you, yeah yeah yeah (Love is all you need)’.[17]

Is that what Christianity means when it says Christians need to grow the fruit of ‘love’? Not yeah, yeah, yeah but nah, nah, nah.

This agape love is not based on how you treat me. It is unconditional – no strings attached – and it is based on the love that God is when the Bible says, ‘God is love’:

Dear friends, we should love each other, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has become God’s child. And so everyone who loves knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8 ERV).

He doesn’t love us because we deserve it. Any human being can do that. God loves those who are sinners, those who have no time for or interest in Him.

That’s the kind of love he wants Christians to have towards one another, towards their enemies and those who do bad things to them. Imagine living in that kind of world where people did good to each other, in politics, your neighbourhood, and in school and university where there is no more bullying, and in families where domestic violence ceases and love controls what happens in families.

Is that fairyland? It’s not when a person pursues God and he changes the person from the inside out.

7.1 Loved to death: He is no fool

You may never have heard of Jim Elliot. Tim Chester tells his story about a man with God’s kind of love:

PPT - Philip James Elliot ( October 8 , 1927 – January 8 , 1956 )  PowerPoint Presentation - ID:5250056
Born: October 8, 1927, Portland, Oregon

Died: January 8, 1956 (aged 28), Curaray River, Ecuador

On Tuesday, January 3, 1956, Jim Elliot and four other missionaries landed on a small strip of land in the jungles of Ecuador.[19] It was a dangerous landing, and they could not all land at once. For years they had been dreaming of and planning for this moment. Their hearts were set on reaching the Auca (pron. au-ka)[20] Indians with the good news of Jesus.

The Aucas were a notoriously dangerous tribe. No one had reached them before. Some had exchanged gifts, but always the Aucas had attacked them. For three months the missionaries had been regularly flying over the area, dropping gifts and shouting greetings. When they landed they built a hut and waited for the Aucas to come and find them.

They knew the dangers. Their wives had discussed the possibility of becoming widows. Elisabeth Elliot, the wife of Jim Elliot, says they went simply because they knew they belonged to God, because he was their creator and their redeemer. They had no choice but to willingly obey him, and that meant obeying his command to take the good news to every nation.

“Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth! I care not if I never raise my voice again for him, if only I may love him, please him”.

To Die Is Gain

On Friday, January 6, three Aucas—one man and two women—approached them. They exchanged greetings. The missionaries showed them rubber bands, yo-yos, and balloons, and the man was taken up in the plane.

On Sunday, January 8, they were due to radio in at 4:30. There was silence. When no message came, a plane was sent and then a rescue party. Four of their bodies were recovered—all lanced to death. The fifth was never found. It seems they were ambushed.

All five were martyred for the sake of Christ. All were married, and four were fathers. One wife was pregnant. Her three-year-old was heard to tell the new crying baby, “Never you mind, when we get to heaven I’ll show you which one is daddy.”

Jim Elliot once said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot had seen through the lie of consumerism. He had seen the emptiness of all this world offers. He had realized the far greater value of the new creation that God promises (Chester 2018).

What did Jim Elliot mean when he said: ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’?

File:Rasalama's execution.jpg - Wikimedia Commons How did Jim Elliot die? He was a missionary martyr.

 

 

 File:Rasalama's execution.jpg - Wikimedia CommonsWhere did he go at death? The Scriptures state, ‘If I live, it will be for Christ, and if I die, I will gain even more’ (Phil 1:21 CEV).

Jesus said: ‘And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?’ (Mark 8:36).

Isn’t that what Jim Elliot meant? He is not a fool if he gives up making billions of dollars with mansions and luxury in this life, but does not enjoy eternal life when he dies. That applies to both gals and guys today.

8.  Works consulted

Tim Chester 2018. Crossway (online). ‘Jim Elliot was no fool’, 8 January. Available at: https://www.crossway.org/articles/jim-elliot-was-no-fool/ (Accessed 13 November 2020).

9.  Notes

[1] The world’s most venomous snake, based on LD50, [lethal dose of 50% of animals] is the inland taipan of Australia. In Wikipedia 2019. Venemous snakes (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venomous_snake (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[2] Wikipedia 2019. Inland taipan (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan (Accessed 19 April 2019). Brief details of the inland, western taipan are in Encyclopaedia Britannica 2019. 9 of the World’s Deadliest Snakes (online). Available at: https://www.britannica.com/list/9-of-the-worlds-deadliest-snakes (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[3] Ibid., Wikipedia.

[4] Wikipedia 2019. Inland taipan (online). Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inland_taipan#cite_ref-warm-blooded_17-0 (Accessed 19 April 2019).

[5] Ibid.

[6] ‘Whales and dolphins are mammals that are specially adapted to life in the ocean. They have smooth skin that is hydrodynamic, allowing them to swim more efficiently. While they might appear to be hairless, whales and dolphins do in fact have whiskerlike hairs around their chins’ (Natural History Museum: Los Angeles County n.d. Mammalogy FAQs. Available at: https://nhm.org/site/research-collections/mammalogy/faqs. Accessed 20 April 2019).

[7] Ibid.

[8] Wycliffe Bible Translators 2019. Our impact. Available at: https://www.wycliffe.org.uk/about/our-impact/ (Accessed 25 April 2019).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Macmillan Dictionary 2009-2019. s.v. scoff. Available at: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/scoff (Accessed 20 April 2019).

[11] Blackwell (2003).

[12] Wikipedia 2018. Airbus A380. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus_A380 (Accessed 21 September 2018).

[13] Woodford, Chris. (2009/2017) Airplanes. Retrieved from https://www.explainthatstuff.com/howplaneswork.html. (Accessed 5 April 2019).

[14] This is a quote from Leviticus 19:18.

[15] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_You_Need_Is_Love#Final_overdubs (Accessed 9 April 2019).

[16] Beatles Lyrics 2000-2019. All You Need Is Love. AZLyrics (online). Available at: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/allyouneedislove.html (Accessed 9 April 2019).

[17] Ibid.

[18] Wikipedia 2019. Jim Elliot (online), 26 March. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Elliot (Accessed 15 April 2019).

[19] Their story is told in Elisabeth Elliot, Through Gates of Splendour (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1957).

[20] Pronunciation from Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2019. s.v. auca. Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/auca (Accessed 15 April 2019).

 

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 13 November 2020.

Responding as a Christian to opponents

Atheists Want a World Without Christianity. Here's How It Would ...

(Image courtesy ChristianWeek)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

As I was having my devotions today and was working through the Book of Proverbs, the Lord drew to my attention a portion from Proverbs 9. I’m working through Isaiah and Proverbs at this time of the year in my ‘Two-year Bible reading plan‘.

This is what caught my attention.

Should we answer a fool?

After only being online for 12 hours, my article on God, evil and the Coronavirus had attracted real hostility in some of the Comments. Many of the people who comment don’t deal with the content of my articles but dump their presuppositions on the reader and use a Red Herring Logical Fallacy.

This is where the folks don’t deal with my topic but attempt to redirect the conversation to a direction in which they are more comfortable to address. It is similar to the ‘Avoiding the Issue Fallacy’. However, the red herring is an intentional attempt to seek to abandon my argument in the article. Many posters also throw in an Ad Hominem Fallacy. This abuses me or the God I write about.

This message hit me like a ton of bricks. As I was having my devotions, the Lord drew to my attention a portion from Proverbs 9. I’m working through Isaiah and Proverbs at this time of the year in my Two-year Bible reading plan‘.

Should we answer a fool?

After my article had been uploaded to On Line Opinion on 30 April 2020, within 12 hours it had attracted real hostility in some of the Comments.

The relevant Scripture the Lord prompted me with was:

“Criticize a person who is rude and shows no respect, and you will only get insults. Correct the wicked, and you will only get hurt. 8 Don’t correct such people, or they will hate you. But correct those who are wise, and they will love you. 9 Teach the wise, and they will become wiser. Instruct those who live right, and they will gain more knowledge.

“10 Wisdom begins with fear and respect for the Lord. Knowledge of the Holy One leads to understanding. 11 Wisdom will help you live longer; she will add years to your life” (Prov 9:7-11 ERV),

I have wasted so much time on forums over the years trying to answer those who show no respect towards me and will insult my God. Here Wisdom (God) commands me not to correct the wicked, as that will lead to hatred of me. Instead correct the wise; they will love me, and gain more knowledge and wisdom.

Thank you Lord for teaching such a profound lesson after 50 years as a believer.

Some of you may not be familiar with the ERV, the Easy-to-Read Version of the Bible I have used. It originally was a translation for the deaf who were used to sign language.

Version Information

The Easy-to-Read Version (ERV) is an accurate translation of the Bible created by the translation team at Bible League International. New readers sometimes struggle with reading older standardized translations of Bible text because of their unfamiliarity with the Bible. The ERV uses simpler vocabulary and shorter sentences while maintaining the integrity of the original texts.

One of the basic ideas that guided the work was that good translation is good communication. In 2015, a major revision was completed in the English text. It uses broader vocabulary and it is revised to reflect new cultural perspectives. The ERV is now in the process of revision for the other language texts while continuing to stay true to the original Biblical texts. In this process of revision we are committed to keeping the text fresh and applicable to the global community of Bible readers.

The ERV uses the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1984) as its Old Testament text with some readings from the Dead Sea Scrolls. Also, it follows the Septuagint when its readings are considered more accurate. For the New Testament, the ERV uses the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th revised edition, 1993) and Nestle-Aland Novum Testament Graece (27th edition, 1993).

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date:30 April 2020.

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Why I oppose use of the COVIDSafe app.

Warning sign Covid-19

By Spencer D Gear PhD

The Australian government has spent a lot of time and money on encouraging all Australians with a mobile phone to download COVIDSafe app.

The COVIDSafe app is part of our work to slow the spread of COVID-19. Having confidence we can find and contain outbreaks quickly will mean governments can ease restrictions while still keeping Australians safe.

The new COVIDSafe app is completely voluntary. Downloading the app is something you can do to protect you, your family and friends and save the lives of other Australians. The more Australians connect to the COVIDSafe app, the quicker we can find the virus….

Your information and privacy is (sic) strictly protected (COVIDSafe app, Dept. of Health).

My reading led to my being not so sure of the privacy and security of the app, so I sent the following information to my friends by email and on Facebook.

1. Questioning COVIDSafe

I emailed my son, Paul, on 27 April 2020 to get this advice on downloading the COVIDSafe app to my phone. He’s an IT professional.
His response was: “My expert opinion is that this app will create far more problems than it solves, and it was very irresponsible of the government to even attempt it.  Stay far away”.

My personal view is that COVIDSafe app is the kind of approach of a totalitarian Communist government and not that of a democracy. I won’t be downloading it.

2. Taken to task

One of my respected Christian friends with a PhD in his discipline responded to the ‘Questioning COVIDSafe’. He wrote:

We’ve actually taken the opposite position.

COVIDSafe app logo(Image courtesy Australian Government, Dept of Health)

I’ve seen that there are experts such as Paul who are against it and there are experts for it. They might be right. They might be wrong; I think it’s a risk worth taking.

Re the totalitarian approach:  Certainly, the Chinese government and other totalitarian regimes will use this new app (they already have their own version up and running in China) to exercise population control in the same way that they already do with the internet and all manner of gadgets. But this doesn’t mean that the app itself is evil. This is important. 

If you were to be consistent in not using systems, equipment or approaches taken by the totalitarian regimes, then you would not use the internet, security cameras to all manner of things. But you do use these things, and benefit from them. In the hands of properly-motivated people, these systems are OK. 

My view is that if there’s anything we can do to reduce the risk of the spread of this virus, then we should do it. We have four phones in our home … and all four of us have downloaded the app (email received 28 April 2020).

3. Consider this response.

It’s important because my friend engages in some erroneous reasoning in his reply. I sent this email to him (29 April 2020).

Thank you for sharing your perspective on the COVIDSafe app. From your line of reasoning, it appears to me that you have committed two logical fallacies:

  1. Cherry Picking. This is also called the fallacy of suppressed evidence: ‘When only select evidence is presented in order to persuade the audience to accept a position and evidence that would go against the position is withheld. The stronger the withheld evidence, the more fallacious the argument’. I’ll explain the suppressed evidence below.
  1. Red Herring Fallacy: ‘Attempting to redirect the argument to another issue to which the person doing the redirecting can better respond. While it is similar to the avoiding the issue fallacy, the red herring is a deliberate diversion of attention with the intention of trying to abandon the original argument’. I’ll discuss below.

3.1 Cherry Picking

In saying experts could be right or wrong, you provided no evidence to demonstrate your point. I was staggered by your comment, ‘It’s a risk worth taking’. You’re a bright and respected man who should not be entering into the gamble of using an app that some experts have many questions about.

Let’s check a couple examples:

Here are some links with information from experts who are recommending against it:

clip_image002Who can access our data? Does digital contact tracing even work? Five questions about the government’s new Coronavirus app.

This is from ABC Science, 20 April 2020. This article and a link in the article provide this information.

clip_image004 I don’t understand how over a million have downloaded the app while ‘the Government hasn’t yet released the app’s source code and new legislation governing its use has yet to be shared. But that hasn’t stopped researchers from digging into both the technical and legal implications of this unprecedented bit of software’.

clip_image005[4] ‘The Digital Transformation Agency did not respond to detailed questions about how it will work’.

clip_image005[4] ‘We also need to know if the data the app collects will be treated in a centralised or decentralised way, said Vanessa Teague, cryptographer and chief executive of Thinking Cybersecurity’.
‘In Dr Teague’s view [cryptographer and chief executive of Thinking Cybersecurity], this model raises problems of both reliability and privacy’.

How do you download the COVIDSafe app and will it drain your ... (Image courtesy abc.net.au/news)

clip_image005[4]‘Before rolling out technology built for a pandemic, we need to know if and when it would be “switched off”. Technology that records who we’ve been physically near, even if that information is encrypted, raises serious implications, and may be tempting to use in other contexts like terrorism cases. “This has to be absolutely limited,” said Kimberlee Weatherall, technology law professor at the University of Sydney. “It has to have sunsets, and some real-time limits”‘.

clip_image005[4]‘Will your employer force you to use the app?’

There are other reasons in this article recommending against downloading this app yet. I encourage you to read this ABC News Science article to gain a contrary view by other experts, instead of cherry picking some experts on your side.

Another link that expresses concerns about the app is:

clip_image002[1]Tracing the challenges of COVIDSafe (Why GitHub?)

The opposition includes:

clip_image007  ‘The Australian app instead downloads a new UniqueID only every two hours. It has no batch capacity, so if it cannot reconnect to the Internet within two hours it simply keeps using the same UniqueID. This has serious privacy implications that are not adequately addressed in the PIA [Private Impact Assessment]’.

clip_image007[1]  ‘This does not frankly describe the opportunity for the national data store to check, regularly, whether a particular individual has the app up and running’.

clip_image007[2]  ‘It greatly increases the opportunities for third-party tracking’.

clip_image007[3]  ‘Like TraceTogether, there are still serious privacy problems if we consider the central authority to be an adversary. That authority, whether Amazon, the Australian government or whoever accesses the server, can

  • recognise all your encryptedIDs if they are heard on Bluetooth devices as you go,
  • recognise them on your phone if it acquires it, and
  • learn your contacts if you test positive.

These are probably still the most serious privacy concerns for some COVIDSafe users. None of this has changed since TraceTogether.

Note: I have not included the experts who support COVIDSafe as my friend was aware of them. I’m not cherry picking by leaving those sources out, but sharing a perspective from the professionals that is opposed to his view.

3.2 Red Herring Fallacy

My friend stated:

Certainly, the Chinese government and other totalitarian regimes will use this new app (they already have their own version up and running in China) to exercise population control in the same way that they already do with the internet and all manner of gadgets.  But this doesn’t mean that the app itself is evil.  This is important.  If you were to be consistent in not using systems, equipment or approaches taken by the totalitarian regimes, then you would not use the internet, security cameras to all manner of things.  But you do use these things, and benefit from them.

When you bring into our conversation issues such as the app in China and it is not evil. Then you bring in an agenda of getting rid of the Internet and all manner of gadgets because the Chinese use them. It is a Red Herring because …

  • I opposed acceptance of COVIDSafe and gave my reasons.
  • Then you introduced another argument of how the Chinese government exercises population control and that would mean I should not use the internet and all manner of gadgets.
  • Then you abandoned my evidence for why I won’t support COVIDSafe.

It is fallacious reasoning and we won’t progress in discussions when you do this.

You say your view is: ‘If there’s anything we can do to reduce the risk of the spread of this virus, then we should do it’. That’s pragmatism as a world view, but without a careful analysis of the pros and cons of the app.

I shared your information with Paul and one point he made was: It is not ‘a neutral piece of technology like the Internet or security cameras or whatever.  It was created with the sole purpose of tracking people, and that makes it something that’s 1) more likely to be abused, and 2) easier to abuse’.

4. Breaches of data have happened before.

Could this happen with the COVIDSafe app?

A prominent university professor has quit after the health department pressured her university to stop her speaking out about the Medicare and PBS history of over 2.5 million Australians being re-identifiable online due to a government bungle.

In 2016, Vanessa Teague, a cryptographer from the University of Melbourne, and two of her colleagues reported on a dataset, published on an open government data website by the federal government, of 2.5 million Australians’ Medicare and PBS payment history dating back to 1984 that had supposedly been de-identified so people were anonymous.

Teague and her colleagues reported that the dataset had several samples where people were able to be identified breach (The Guardian Australia Edition, 8 March 2020).

5. Conclusion

There are too many ifs and buts about the privacy and security of this app. There are professionals in the field who consider it is safe enough. Others oppose this view and give their reasons.

Until better information is available to guarantee the security and privacy concerns of COVIDSafe, I will not recommend its downloading on any mobile phone.

Copyright © 2020 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 April 2020.

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